From: The Orange County Register
By Sonali Kohli 7/18/2011
OSTA MESA – A judge has upheld a preliminary injunction requested by the city’s employee union that will halt hundreds of planned layoffs.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Tam Namoto Schumann overruled the city’s objections to the injunction Friday, prohibiting outsourcing to private companies and layoffs until the Costa Mesa City Employees Association’s case against the city goes to trial. A trial date has not yet been set.
The city plans to outsource 18 services and gave six-month layoff notices to almost half its employees in March, as is required by union contracts. The Orange County Employees Association sued the city on behalf of the Costa Mesa City Employee Association in May to stop the layoffs.
The city argued that outsourcing some city services is within employee contracts, and layoff notices would not cause immediate harm because the first layoffs would take effect in September.
But the preliminary injunction does not stop Costa Mesa from researching its options, the OCEA countered, which is the stage the city is currently in. The city must send requests and receive proposals from interested parties before making the final decision to outsource a service.
Costa Mesa can still consider the Orange County Fire Authority’s recently-submitted proposal to provide fire services to the city, since the the injunction does not apply to the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association. The city can also outsource services offered by the county or other cities, just not to private companies.
“The injunction makes it clear that the judge has ordered the City to not outsource jobs to private companies until the CMCEA lawsuit is concluded,” City Attorney Tom Duarte said, according to a press release. “We respect her decision and are now looking at our next legal options.”
The judge ordered the OCEA to pay a $50,000 bond to cover the city’s potential losses. Costa Mesa had requested an undertaking of more than $2 million from the union, while the OCEA proposed $25,000.
“We think ($50,000) is reasonable given that the city hasn’t studied any potential savings from outsourcing,” said OCEA spokeswoman Jennifer Muir.