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Trial date set in employees' lawsuit

City workers association contends that council's decision to outsource the workforce violates state law.

October 28, 2011|By Joseph Serna

COSTA MESA — A lawsuit filed in May by city employees hoping to stop the proposed mass layoffs has tentatively been scheduled for April 9, city officials confirmed Friday.

The complaint by the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn. argues that the City Council's decision earlier this year to outsource more than 40% of the city workforce violates state law.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann issued a temporary injunction against Costa Mesa over the summer that, until the case is resolved, prohibits the city from laying off its employees and replacing them with workers from the private sector.

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Costa Mesa challenged the injunction in a court filing in Santa Ana's Court of Appeal on Friday.

Both parties are scheduled to appear in court Nov. 22, when Schumann is scheduled to hear the city's motion challenging elements of the employees' lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the city continues to pursue outsourcing city services as part of a broad austerity program. The council has sent out more than a half a dozen requests for bids from public and private groups that want to take over city services ranging from videography to street sweeping and jail services.

The council majority argues the city needs to lower its pension obligations in the long term and inject more money into city improvements. City employees, on the other hand, contend that the cuts are politically motivated and that they are willing to negotiate if the city would rescind the layoff notices it issued in March.

Costa Mesa workers began contributing more to their pensions after negotiations last fall.

The city filed a petition — a step before an official appeal — with the Court of Appeal over the summer. The court dismissed the petition.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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