Employee association files complaint against Costa Mesa

In an effort to block the possible layoffs of 213 city employees, the Costa Mesa Employees Assn. has filed a complaint with the Orange County Superior Court, according to a news release issued by the group Monday.

The complaint includes a request for an immediate temporary restraining order, according to the release, which named Costa Mesa Chief Executive Tom Hatch.

"As we have said since the very beginning, the city did not have legal authority to take this action," Nick Berardino, the association's general manager, said in a prepared statement. "The council majority has had a series of opportunities to avoid litigation, but they ignored repeated public and private warnings and instead irresponsibly chose to send layoff notices unlawfully to half of the city's workers."

The employees' association claims that the city is limited in outsourcing only specially trained or experienced persons for "special services and advice," according to the complaint filed with the court Monday.

The court motion also claimed that the city is limited in laying off employees because a memorandum of understanding that establish hours, wages, and terms is valid through March 31, 2013, unless the memorandum is modified, amended or deleted.

In the official complaint, the positions that were listed as being outsourced were: street sweeping, graffiti abatement, park maintenance, parkway and median maintenance, facility maintenance, animal control, city jail, special event safety, information technology, telecommunications, building inspection, reprographic, graphic design, payroll, and employee benefit administration.

"The City Attorney's Office has not seen the complaint," said city spokesman William Lobdell said. "Once the attorneys can review it, the City will have a response."

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