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Texas police union calls on Orange County officials to reverse 'oppressive actions' by Sheriff Jimmy Mooney

Mooney's actions are described by union officials as a way to undermine the union's first amendment freedoms of speech and association.

ORANGE, Texas — The state's largest law enforcement labor union is calling on Orange County officials to reverse the actions of the county's sheriff, which they say violated the constitutional rights of union members.

The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas released a statement claiming that recent actions by Sheriff Jimmy Lane Mooney were, "punitive and oppressive."

Union officials feel that Mooney’s actions go against the Orange County Sheriffs Employee’s Association and union elected leadership and show his intent to retaliate against the association for recent contract negations with county commissioners.

"CLEAT has stated that I retaliated against some of some people here at the sheriff's offices which I vehemently deny," Mooney said.

The union said Mooney's actions violate assurances made to OSCEA that there would be no retaliation or ill-treatment of union members.

"The ink had barely dried from OCSEA President Dustin Bock and County Judge Gothia signing the most recent collective bargaining agreement when Sheriff Mooney began his oppression and punitive acts against the union leadership," CLEAT Executive Director Charley Wilkison, said.

The union claims Mooney, "effectively disrupted this union’s operation and ability to represent its members." Mooney created assignments at the Orange County jail for association officials that were meant to punish them by segregating them in lockdown environments, according to the release.

"I have spoken with Judge Gothia. He does not run this office. He made that clear,” Mooney said. “They're standing behind me as far as whatever assignments or reassignments that I made."

RELATED: Orange County sheriff facing lawsuit from state's largest police union for alleged 'union-busting' actions

Two association leaders, who made the OSCEA bargaining team, disputed statements made by Mooney regarding additions to the union contract that he requested in open court. Union members were opposed to the sheriff's requests, according to the release.

Mooney reassigned the leaders to punish them for associating with and speaking on behalf of the union, according to the release.

Mooney's actions are described by union officials as a way to undermine the union's first amendment freedoms of speech and association. CLEAT members claim the sheriff's actions demonstrate anti-union behavior and have caused several union members to file grievances to protect their contracted privileges.

Mooney canceled some of the deputies' benefits and refused to return them until union members voted on a collective agreement that would not allow employees to appeal unpredictable job actions assigned by the sheriff, according to the release.  

The union claims the Orange County sheriff also verbally threatened members of the union negotiations team and executive board of the union when they decided to continue negotiations with county commissioners regarding their contractual benefits. Mooney threatened to and did cancel other benefits in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, according to the release.

From a CLEAT press release:

AUSTIN —The state’s largest law enforcement labor union, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, or CLEAT, is calling upon Orange County Judge John Gothia and Orange County Commissioners to intervene and reverse punitive and oppressive actions by Sheriff Jimmy Lane Mooney against CLEAT affiliated local, Orange County Sheriffs Employee’s Association, and that local union’s elected leadership. Recent actions by Sheriff Mooney clearly illustrate his intent to retaliate against OCSEA leadership and the union for their recent contract negotiations with the county commissioners.

CLEAT Executive Director Charley Wilkison stated, “the ink had barely dried from OCSEA President Dustin Bock and County Judge Gothia signing the most recent collective bargaining agreement when Sheriff Mooney began his oppression and punitive acts against the union leadership.” These recent actions by the sheriff clearly violate commissioner court public assurances to OCSEA that there would be no retaliation or ill-treatment of local union members. The commissioners publicly resolved support of the local union’s right and obligation to negotiate on behalf of its members and assurances were echoed by each commissioner against retribution during open court negotiations with the local association leadership.

The sheriff has effectively disrupted this union’s operation and ability to represent its members by banishing local union leaders to the county jail in assignments that were newly created by the sheriff with the intent to punish the association president and treasurer by segregating these individuals to a lockdown environment. The sheriff obviously intends to subvert the first amendment freedoms of speech and association by the union leadership. These two association leaders made up the formal OCSEA bargaining team along with CLEAT lead negotiator, Craig Deats, and clearly disputed the sheriff’s statement, in open court, regarding union consensus of his requested additions to the union contract that members were opposed to.

Both union leaders are accomplished investigators and were reassigned to positions created by the sheriff as punishment for associating with and speaking out on behalf of the local union. The sheriff’s actions further illustrate a pattern of anti-union behavior which has required several union members to file grievances to protect their privileges under the contract. In late August, the sheriff canceled the deputies’ take-home car benefit and stated they would not be returned until the union members voted on the collective agreement which empowered him by canceling appeal rights of employees for arbitrary job actions by the sheriff. Furthermore, when local union leadership committed to negotiate with county commissioners in an attempt to maintain their contractual benefits, the sheriff issued verbal threats to those on the union negotiations team and executive board of the union that he would and ultimately did cancel other benefits in violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

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