Police union lawsuit roils Edinburg

In the Rio Grande Valley, a lawsuit filed against the city of Edinburg has been moved from state court to federal court. In the legal action, the Edinburg United Police Officers Association (EUPOA) alleges discrimination by the city against police officers based on union activity.

Allegations against chief

The union clams several officers were demoted by Chief Cesar Torres because they opposed his plan to reopen the collective bargaining agreement so that he could hire an assistant chief from outside of the city’s police force.

The other city police union – the Edinburg Police Organization – says that rather than suing, EUPOA should focus on negotiating the contract that expires later this year.

“Personal vendetta”?

The news source says the president of the Edinburg Police Organization characterized the suit “as a personal vendetta” against the police chief by “a very small group” of officers.

However, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association Kevin Lawrence sides with EUPOA, saying that the union’s “board members have been subjected to adverse job actions due to their decisions and allegiance to EUPOA.”

He also claims that officers weren’t allowed to file grievances that would then go to arbitration, a process laid out in the current collective bargaining agreement. Lawrence says that by denying arbitration, the city prompted the lawsuit.

Allegations not arbitrable

The city’s position is that the officers’ allegations are not eligible for arbitration.

Lawrence added that there are concerns in the community about the negative effect the lawsuit might have later this year on the renegotiation of the collective bargaining agreement. “What good is the contract at all if one party is free to simply ignore and violate it when they choose?”