(1) Either the public employer or the exclusive representative may petition the board to initiate factfinding or, if public determination of facts and disagreements will expediate settlement, the board may initiate factfinding in accordance with 39-31-308, MCA.
(2) Within three days of receipt of a party's petition for factfinding, the board agent shall submit a list of five qualified, disinterested persons to each of the parties to the dispute.
(a) Within five days of receipt of the list, the parties shall select a fact finder by having the petitioner strike two names and then the other party strike two names. The remaining name is that of the fact finder.
(b) The parties shall notify the board agent of the name of the fact finder.
(3) The fact finder shall establish dates and places of hearings.
(4) Within 20 days from the date of hearing, the fact finder shall make written findings of fact and recommendations for resolution of the dispute. The findings shall be served on both parties and a copy sent to the board.
(5) The fact finder may request the board agent to make the report public five days after the parties are served with the findings.
(6) Fifteen days after the parties are served the board agent shall publicly post the fact finder's report.
(7) When a party petitions the board to initiate factfinding, the parties shall pay directly to the fact finder within ten days. When the board initiates factfinding, the parties shall pay the board within ten days and the board shall forward the total amount to the fact finder.
(8) Nothing in these rules prohibit the fact finder from mediating a matter that has been submitted for factfinding.