The Edinburg Police Organization announced Thursday that it is not associated with the Edinburg United Police Officer Associations’ lawsuit against the city and its president further clarified that the organization feels the litigation is detrimental to the department as a whole.
“There are two (2) unions in Edinburg. Us (represented by the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas) and EUPOA (represented by the Texas Municipal Police Association),” the Edinburg Police Organization board of directors said in a statement posted on Facebook. “Our three (3) year contract with the city expires this year which means this year the bargaining union (EUPOA) should start negotiating with the city for (the) next contract, instead they chose to sue The City of Edinburg and Chief of Police.”
EUPOA, the older union of the two, filed a lawsuit on April 9, alleging that Chief Cesar Torres discriminated against officers for participating in union activity and for opposing his proposal to hire an officer outside the department for the job of assistant chief.
The city hasn’t yet filed a response to the lawsuit.
But for Carlos Romero, the president of the EPO, the timing of the lawsuit couldn’t be worse.
“Number one, it’s a bad time because this year is when we’re supposed to negotiate a contract,” Romero said.
Currently, the TMPA-represented union, which filed the suit, has bargainng power and is set to negotiate the contract.
“I don’t see how it would affect it in a positive way if the negotiating union … has (an) active lawsuit,” Romero said.
The EPO, which formed after a disagreement in 2019, is also trying to gain bargaining power, according to Romero.
Secondly, Romero said he doesn’t believe the lawsuit actually reflects the wishes of some of the Edinburg United Police Officers Association’s members.
“I had a lot of members from the Edinburg United Police Officers Association come up and say ‘I didn’t vote. We never got a say so on this,'” Romero said. “So they were actually upset and said ‘We don’t want anything to do with this union anymore because we’re not about badmouthing the city when the city is doing good things.'”
Since its formation in May, Romero said it has 86 members out of 155 commissioned officers, including two officers who joined on Thursday.
Romero also said it’s not unusual for a city to have two unions — one represented by CLEAT and another represented by TMPA — but, those unions should work together for the betterment of all the officers in the department.
Instead, a small group of employees who have a vendetta against the chief filed the lawsuit, Romero said.
“The lawsuit was over a personal vendetta a very small group has against the Chief of Police but in doing so they have tainted the relationship with our local government which will affect not only members of their union but everyone as an employee,” the Edinburg Police Organization’s board of directors said in the statement. “Their own members have said they never voted to use the union name on this lawsuit. For those family and friends that know we are part of the Edinburg Police Organization, we did not have anything to do with the lawsuit and we don’t represent it. We only have the best interest in mind for our members and ALL employees.”
As for Torres, the chief, Romero said he had nothing but praise for his leadership.
“Just to make it clear, our current chief, Chief Torres, he has done absolutely the best he can for us,” Romero said. “I mean he’s honestly broken records as to what any chief has done. I’ve been there long enough to go through four different chiefs and he has gotten the most done while being involved in the community.”