Costa Mesa moves back possible layoff date

COSTA MESA — Though originally told they could be laid off by mid-September, the earliest Costa Mesa workers could see their jobs outsourced is Nov. 19, city officials announced Friday.

"The city wanted to let the employees know that nothing is going to happen until at least this time," city spokesman Bill Lobdell said.

On March 17, 213 workers received notices that they could be laid off in six months.

As a result of a Costa Mesa City Employees Assn. lawsuit, an Orange County Superior Court judge barred the city from outsourcing its services to the private sector until the matter is resolved in court; however, Costa Mesa can still research the outsourcing possibilities.

Costa Mesa officials met a second hurdle when employees discovered the city wasn't following a more than 10-year-old policy that requires workers and other personnel to be formally involved in the outsourcing research process.

The city had to restart its outsourcing process for four services last month because of the misstep.

Critics argue that the setbacks are indicative of a rushed plan by a new City Council to break employee unions. The council majority says the city has to prioritize its spending toward capital improvements and needs to offload employee pensions, which are projected to increase.

Employee contracts require that the city give at least six months' notice before outsourcing a worker's job. Lobdell said it's too early to tell if any city services will be ready for outsourcing by Nov. 19, that it's just the earliest anything could happen.

The news doesn't really change anything for workers, though they may not appreciate the timing, said Orange County Employees Assn. spokeswoman Jennifer Muir.

"First they give out notices on St. Patrick's Day, they make this announcement to workers on Labor Day weekend and say workers will get [be] let go right before Thanksgiving?" Muir said. "What's next? Christmas?"

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