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Mediator steps into prison contract talks

State-appointed mediators shuttled between union and management Thursday in their first day of trying to find the middle ground in what had been rancorous contract negotiations between the Department of Personnel Administration and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

Union spokesman Ryan Sherman said CCPOA negotiators met "for hours" with the mediators who went back and forth between conference rooms housing the two sides at the Radisson Hotel in Sacramento.

"We're talking about things," Sherman said, without giving any specifics. "We've had more effective communication with the mediator today than we've had in the last year with the DPA. However, we're still far apart."

DPA spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley said "we're thrilled that it's finally underway."

The state had requested mediation after 11 months of negotiations with the union failed to obtain a contract to replace the old one that expired last July. The Public Employees Relations Board agreed to the request, saying that negotiations between the two parties had reached an impasse.