It looks like it will be a long weekend for Mineral County Sheriff Tom Bauer and Undersheriff Mike Boone, who are left to patrol the whole county alone, while the rest of the deputies are out on strike, picketing commissioners for higher wages and a long term contract.

Although the strike started last Monday, May 30, neither side filed for mediation until late Thursday when Teamsters Local 2 representative Shawn Fontaine says he submitted paperwork.

"We still don't have an agreement and we are still officially on strike," Fontaine said. "We will go to the table and to the county and the assistance of a mediator to try and get a deal done, but in the meantime we will continue to picket. We will take the weekend off, there's some events in Mineral County, the car show and what not, but then we will be back to the picket line on Monday.

There are only two union mediators in the state of Montana, so things may not move that quickly. Fontaine says he hopes mediation can begin Tuesday and explained the process.

"We usually gather at the beginning in one room, and then we break out and each party has their own separate room where we can meet privately with the mediator. The mediator goes back and forth between the parties and acts as a neutral, well, they call it the 'voice of reason': gives advice to both sides and relays facts."

Fontaine says that as soon as mediation is finished, deputies will be back out on patrol and that that could happen as early as Wednesday.

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