GOLD BEACH Curry County reached a tentative agreement with the Oregon Public Employees Union Monday after working through a state mediator for most of the afternoon and evening.

Commissioner Marlyn Schafer said she didnt get home until 10 p.m. after being in negotiations since 1 p.m.

She couldnt release any details of the agreement, but said union members would vote on it Monday.

The changes have been worked into the budget, however, which will be the subject of a department head workshop at 1:30 p.m. today (June 20), said Schafer.

She said the county budget must be finalized by June 27. Were frantically trying to strategize the best thing to do.

Unable to reach an agreement on medical insurance benefits and other items, the county and union had requested mediation from the Conciliation Service Division of the Oregon Employment Relations Board.

Mediator Bob Nightingale told the county negotiating team he is one of three mediators who have to cover 3,000 collective bargaining agreements in Oregon.

I have no authority to order people to do anything, he said.

Agreements reached between parties are inherently better than forced agreements, said Nightingale. I help parties come to closure together.

He explained that he would operate by first getting background on outstanding issues from each side. He spent the first hour with union personnel, then moved to the county negotiating team.

He said he would then move back and forth between the parties with proposals, but otherwise keep the parties apart.

Schafer said that is exactly the way it went. She said the two sides never met face-to-face. The Pilot was not allowed to attend the meetings.

Nightingale also told the two sides that he could bring mediation proposals back and forth. Those were proposals good for the life of the mediation only. After that, the union or county could fall back to previous proposals.

Nightingale said the technique allows parties to engage in speculation. He said when parties cant move, the mediator can help them consider what-ifs that can lead to a settlement.

I will do everything in my power to help you come to settlement at any part of the process, said Nightingale to the county negotiators.

He also explained that whatever is said to a mediator would be kept completely confidential. He said mediators could not be subpoenaed by either side should legal action result.