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City, labor officials debate at a diner

Several dozen citizens came out to hear presentations by Costa Mesa councilmen, but many left unconvinced layoffs were still needed

July 15, 2011|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

But the fundamental idea behind municipal workers' pensions in his mind — fair compensation for good work — shouldn't be thrown out for the lowest bidder, Berardino said.

"We got to get away from this race to the bottom," he said. "The question isn't, Why we should have it. The question is why shouldn't we all have it in the richest country in the world?"

Berardino then offered to negotiate with the city, but on one condition: the council has to rescind the layoff notices it distributed in March to 213 workers.

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Righeimer and Mensinger said that's not going to happen, as long as the employee contracts require that if the city wants to outsource jobs it has to issue notices six months in advance to do it.

"The issue today is control, it's control in a nutshell," Mensinger said.

Then he pointed to Berardino, "They should not control our city. We should control our own city."

The debate did little to change people's minds. Most said they sided with city workers and thought there were other solutions.

One woman, Judy Gielow, a 42-year Costa Mesa resident, said she now believes the council is acting in the city's best interests, but both it and the OCEA are still playing politics.

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