Orange County Sheriff Facing Lawsuit

Orange County Commissioners Court has called a special meeting after an announcement by the state’s largest police union of plans to file a lawsuit against Sheriff Lane Mooney and other county officials.

In a news release, the union contends county officials are not following the Local Government Code laws in negotiating. The union also accuses Mooney of trying to bust the union.  

Mooney on Saturday told KOGT he will comment after he sees the lawsuit.

The police union Combined Law Enforcement Agencies of Texas said in the statement the group will file a lawsuit against “high-level” elected officials in the county. The lawsuit will be filed in state district court, according to the release, and Orange County has three of those.

The lawsuit, if filed, would include the details of the allegations CLEAT made in the news release. The Orange County Courthouse will be closed Monday for Labor Day.

Friday afternoon, County Judge John Gothia called a special commissioners court meeting for 2 p.m. Tuesday. The agenda is to continue discussing on-going contract negotiations with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Employee Association, which is representated by CLEAT.

The agenda said the court may going into a closed-door executive session to discuss the negotiations. Also listed on the agenda is for the court, in public session, approve a contract.

Commissioners could vote to skip that vote if an agreement has not been made.

Below is the press release from CLEAT

The state’s largest law enforcement labor union, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations, or CLEAT, is signaling its intentions to file a major lawsuit in state district court for illegal “union-busting” actions by high-level elected officials in Southeast Texas. 

“In recent weeks, it has become evident that the highest level of elected officials are actively conspiring to violate the fundamental constitutional rights of the unionized county employees,” said Charley Wilkison, Executive Director of CLEAT.

“No matter how powerful or important you are the law is clear,” said Wilkison. “You cannot use official oppression or your position to deny the hard-working women and men of the Orange County Sheriffs Office their legal rights to collectively bargain. You cannot negotiate in bad faith, and you cannot use punitive actions against their working conditions.”

“Bad faith bargaining, coercion, and stripping away settled conditions of employment during negotiations is a time-tested anti-union strategy designed to break the local union, intimidate the local union members and achieve a certain outcome.”

CLEAT has filed two collective bargaining contract grievances this week against Sheriff Jimmy Lane Mooney and the County of Orange, Texas, on behalf of the sheriff’s department employees.

The grievances allege failure to follow the law regarding Chapter 174 of the Local Government Code that governs procedures during collective bargaining negotiations. The other grievance alleges punitive actions against employees.

The filing of the grievances demonstrates CLEAT’s commitment to follow the law and bring the parties back to the negotiating table in an effort for a good faith effort to obtain an employment contract. If the county continues to violate the law and rights of the unionized employees, then CLEAT will go forward with the union-busting lawsuits.

“The voters of Orange County made the decision to give union rights to their sheriff’s office employees in 1990. It’s the law. Even the politicians must follow the law with respect to the constitutional and union rights of the working people who protect and serve their communities,” said Wilkison.

Written by KOGT Radio

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