Cameron County Sheriff Deputies seek collective bargaining

Some said it'll boost morale, but others believe it TMs a step in the wrong direction.

The Cameron County Sheriff Deputies' Association is looking to follow in footsteps of other members of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, and secure a collective bargaining contract.

CLEAT Attorney Roberto Garcia, said the idea to seek collective bargaining in Cameron County has been on the drawing board now for several months.

He also said the contract would allow county leaders and sheriff deputies to work out agreements together, on anything from disciplinary action to benefits and pay.

"It would provide better job security, (and) better job security and better terms of employment translates into better morale," Garcia said. "Better morale, translates to better efficiency out on the street."

State law requires that the deputies' association provide a petition with at least five percent of registered - or 2,048 signatures - in order to put the issue before voters.

Nearly 700 signatures were invalidated, but the association still gathered over 2,700 signatures.

The documentation was brought before county commissioners for approval Thursday; however, they tabled the issue.

"It's not up to the union itself, it's not up to the county judge and it's not up to the county commissioners to decide if they want to have collective bargaining," Garcia said.

"This is entirely up to the voting public, and there will be an election that needs to be called under the statute."

Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos agrees with Garcia on that point, but said they tabled the issue to review if the sheriff's association can in fact petition for collective bargaining.

Cascos said he won't dispute state law, but he did voice his concerns.

"Ultimately the tax-payer ends up paying for any increases in salary, and quite frankly, it's unfair."

Cascos said collective bargaining can have a financial strain on entities that approve it.

"I TMm not in support of collective bargaining as it pertains to automatic increases in compensation and benefits," Cascos said.

The deadline for county leaders to approve the petition is September 7.