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Contract negotiations head online

City employees launch website to share their point of view while calling the initial offer 'draconian.'

August 06, 2013|By Bradley Zint
  • A screenshot of the new Costa Mesa Works website.
A screenshot of the new Costa Mesa Works website.

The Costa Mesa City Employees Assn., which represents 200 city employees, launched a website Tuesday that aims to provide its perspective on recently launched contract negotiations at City Hall.

Promising "common sense," CostaMesaWorks.com plans to offer regular updates during what are expected to be contentious negotiations with the city.

"As we enter into contract negotiations this year, we also reaffirm our commitment to transparency and accountability in all we do," CMCEA President Helen Nenadal said in a prepared statement. "CostaMesaWorks.com is a space for us to share updates from the bargaining table, insights into how things work at City Hall and news involving the city's dedicated employees."

A CMCEA news release issued Tuesday, the day negotiations with city management began, said officials presented "a draconian and unprecedented initial proposal that attempts to completely destroy the relationship that the city has built with its employees over the last 60 years."

"Unfortunately, the proposal is typical of a City Council majority that has torn apart the community and wasted millions of taxpayer dollars advancing their extreme agenda."

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Mayor Jim Righeimer responded: "Costa Mesa taxpayers want us to spend their hard-earned dollars on services and infrastructure rather than 12 sick days a year, which can be cashed out if not used. I don't think that's draconian."

Righeimer, who leads the majority, added, "Government is in a new world, and our contract has not come up for at least five years. In that five-year period, a lot of things have changed, and I can understand that they're not happy."

He said under the Civic Openness in Negotiations (COIN) ordinance adopted in September, the public will have the opportunity to see more of the process as it unfolds. COIN allows the city to post offers made to employees and other terms during collective-bargaining negotiations.

Asked whether the employees' website fits the COIN mission, Orange County Employees Assn. (OCEA) spokeswoman Jennifer Muir said information from all sides will improve transparency.

"We want to make sure this round of negotiations [is] truly as transparent as possible," she said. "So this website is our way of doing our part to ensure the community has all the information about what's happening and can hear from us about our ideas. The COIN ordinance will allow the City Council to share information as well. We think anything that injects transparency and accountability at City Hall makes a lot of sense."

The CMCEA, which is affiliated with the OCEA, represents office personnel, planners, inspectors, maintenance workers, mechanics and police dispatchers, according to the OCEA website.

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