Bend city officials and union take collaborative approach to negotiations

The two sides have agreed to focus on “interest-based bargaining” at their upcoming meeting later this month.

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The City of Bend Employees Association, or COBEA, represents nonmanagement employees who fall outside the police and fire department unions, drawing in members who work in departments as diverse as the city’s water and sewer infrastructure to IT and finance. Julie Price, the union’s president, said it suggested using a technique called interest-based bargaining, and she was “pleasantly surprised when the city took us up on the offer.” COBEA and the city agreed to split the cost for a $1,500 training scheduled later this month featuring an expert in interest-based bargaining. The union’s current three-year contract expires this summer.

“This is a more collaborative way to approach bargaining,” said Price, a program technician in the city’s utilities department. “It starts by putting the problem we’re trying to solve out there and coming together to fix it.”

(READ MORE: Bend Bulletin)