Judge Affirms "Outsourcing" Preliminary Injunction (Amended)*
As announced this morning by Managing Editor Norberto Santana, Jr., in the Voice of OC blog, HERE, Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann has issued an order prohibiting the City of Costa Mesa from laying off City employees until the case filed by the Orange County Employee's Association is heard. According to that article, no trial date is set at this time.
OCEA PRESS RELEASE
The OCEA, through it's spokeswoman, Jennifer Muir, issued the following Press Release today:
Judge issues order stopping Costa Mesa layoffs
SANTA ANA, CA – A Superior Court judge has issued an order prohibiting the City of Costa Mesa from laying off City employees pursuant to outsourcing their jobs to the private sector.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann issued the preliminary injunction late Friday following a verbal ruling July 5. After the Court’s July 5 ruling, the City issued a press release erroneously claiming that Judge Schumann’s ruling would expressly allow layoffs so long as the City followed “proper procedures.”
Judge Schumann rejected a request by the city to allow it to lay off City employees if it followed “proper procedures.” Instead, the order very clearly prohibits the city from contracting out services currently performed by City employees to any non-local public entity under the Government Code, and further prohibits the City from laying off City employees pursuant to any such contracting out.
“We respect the judge’s ruling, and we hope the City Council and CEO Tom Hatch will do the same,” OCEA spokeswoman Jennifer Muir said. “The ruling has been clear from the beginning, and we’re hopeful that now that it has been issued, the written order will clear up any confusion caused by the City’s press release.”
Nearly half the City’s workforce received six-month layoff notices on March 17 after the Costa Mesa City Council majority voted to outsource their jobs. At the time, the City Council had not studied the cost of outsourcing or the negative impacts to community services, and they still have failed to do so.
The Orange County Employees Association, on behalf of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association, filed a lawsuit in May to stop the layoffs.Attached, please find the order for a preliminary injunction, the judge’s minute order, the City’s July 5 press release, and a copy of the City’s proposed injunction language, which was rejected by the Court.
NO WORD FROM THE CITY YET
I tried to contact representatives of the City of Costa Mesa for comment but was unable to reach anyone before I published this. I imagine word from the City will be forthcoming later today. When it does I'll report it.
*CITY RESPONSE TO THE RULING
The following is the response to the ruling by the judge, issued in the form a press release by Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell late this afternoon:
Judge temporarily prohibits Costa Mesa from outsourcing jobs to private
companies until lawsuit is heard; contracting to public agencies OK
COSTA MESA, CALIF.—Orange County Superior Court Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann issued a preliminary injunction late last week prohibiting the City of Costa Mesa from outsourcing jobs to private companies until a lawsuit filed against the City by the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn. (CMCEA) is heard.
No trial date has been set for the civil suit, which seeks to halt the outsourcing plan. The ruling doesn’t prohibit the City from contracting jobs with the County of Orange, neighboring cities and other public agencies or exploring the viability of outsourcing services to private companies.
The ruling also doesn’t affect a proposal by the Orange County Fire Authority to provide fire services for Costa Mesa and hire all City firefighters. The Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. employees are not covered in the injunction.
The written injunction clarified initial remarks made at a hearing on July 5 by Judge Schumann, who said at the time: “So as far as the City’s ability to explore other avenues of perhaps fiscal soundness, I do not think that this injunction extends to preventing the City from doing that as long as they do not terminate folks without following the proper procedures.”
Schumann did not make a reference to halting outsourcing to private companies until a verdict was reached in the CMCEA lawsuit (see transcript below).
The City Attorney’s Office had originally interpreted the judge’s oral remarks to mean that the outsourcing process—including the potential contracting of jobs to private companies—could continue as long as the City could show that it had followed “proper procedures.”
“The injunction makes it clear that the judge has ordered the City to not outsource jobs to private companies until the CMCEA lawsuit is concluded,” City Attorney Tom Duarte said. “We respect her decision and are now looking at our next legal options.”
In March, the City Council voted to send six-month layoff notices to 213 city employees—more than 40% of its workforce. The Council wanted to explore the viability of outsourcing to stem rising pension costs, among other concerns. Because of contracts with employees’ association, the City was mandated to give six-month warnings for any outsourced job.
COURT REPORTER'S TRANSCRIPT OF 7/5/11 SESSION
Read the Court Reporter's Transcript of the July 5, 2011 court date HERE. This should download a pdf file to your desktop.