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Lawyers question Sheriff Sargent LeBeouf on CBA

By Bobby Tingle

The Orange Leader

Orange County Sheriff’s Officers Association has filed a grievance with Orange County Commissioners Court objecting to changes in health care benefits for future retirees. The association contends the current collective bargaining agreement was violated as a result of the court’s changes to retiree benefits. Commissioners called a public workshop Tuesday morning to hold an arbitration hearing on the association’s grievance.

Sargent Jimmy Wayne LeBeouf, president of the association, attended the hearing and was called as a witness representing Orange County employees.

Orange County Commissioners amended health care benefits for retirees on September 16, 2016. Their action took effect at the beginning of the current fiscal year on October 1, 2016. Originally, commissioners set up a sliding scale to base retiree health care benefits, based on consecutive years of service, for employees hired after October 1. That decision was reached on August 1, 2016.

The September decision amended their August decision, basing retiree health care benefits on cumulative years of service and applying the change to current and future employees. They maintained the sliding scale.

Although the meeting was open to the public, very few local residents attended.

Lebeouf was questioned extensively in an effort to determine whether county commissioners have the authority to amend health care benefits for retired employees. The county attorney sought to establish the collective bargaining agreement as being applicable to employees only.

The collective bargaining agreement currently in force expired in 2013. However the agreement contains an ‘evergreen’ clause, which maintains it as the governing agreement until a new agreement is agreed on and enacted.

When asked about the perpetual nature of the agreement due to the ‘evergreen’ clause LeBeouf responded, “No ma’am, there is an ending to it.”

When questioned about collective bargaining agreement talks since 2013 LeBeouf characterized the meetings as ‘tense’ adding, “there was not much of a negotiation, the county tried to strip the union of benefits.”

LeBeouf’s comments concerned meetings held in August of 2016. He responded that he had not been a party to negotiations prior to January 1, 2016 when he became president of the association.

The hearing continued Tuesday afternoon with plans for the county to call witnesses.

Orange County Commissioners Court will meet at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, in the Commissioners Courtroom of the Orange County Administration Building located at 123 South 6th Street in Orange, for discussion and possible action regarding a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Employee’s Association.