The two sides are close, but a new collective bargaining agreement between the Sheriff’s Office Employees Association and Orange County has not been reached. The second negotiation session was Wednesday afternoon and lasted for about two hours in the Administration Building of the Courthouse.
Union attorney Greg Cagle indicated the two parties moved slightly closer with negotiations this week, but still have hurdles to clear. Cagle expressed concern over the “Me Too” clause in the contract which would tie the union to any changes made by the Commissioners Court in the county’s Human Resource policy manual. “It defeats the purpose of us having that agreement,” Cagle explained.
County Judge Brint Carlton is guardedly optimistic about the progress in the talks for a new contract. His biggest concern deals with the “Just Cause” provision in the contract which the county believes should not be tied to the Commissioners Court, but rest only with the union and Sheriff Keith Merritt. Carlton said, “We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get around it and get a new contract.”
The union members will meet with their attorneys probably on Thursday of next week to discuss the latest offers. The next scheduled talks between the county and the union will be Friday, April 28, at 11:00 AM in the Commissioners Courtroom of the Administration Building.