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Costa Mesa rescinds controversial mass layoff plan

December 5, 2012 | 12:16 pm

City worker reacts during 2011 layoff discussions. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

Costa Mesa city leaders have formally rescinded layoff notices to scores of municipal employees, upending what had been the cornerstone of a much-watched austerity plan.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to pull back 70 layoff notices that had been sent to workers. Council members had originally issued 213 pink slips, targeting about half the city’s workforce.

The drastic step, council members said, was aimed at slashing costs and pension obligations. The proposed move captured statewide attention, cheered by fiscal conservatives and decried by employee unions.

The move to rescind the layoffs, which came during a marathon council session, also authorized city Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch to begin negotiations with the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn. in an effort to seek "enhanced" city services and long-term financial stability.

Mayor Jim Righeimer has said he's interested in pursuing outsourcing for divisions such as the jail, payroll, park maintenance and street-sweeping services.

The Orange County Employees Assn., which represents about 200 of Costa Mesa's employees, filed a lawsuit in response to the layoffs, which resulted in an injunction that prohibited them. The California Supreme Court last month denied the city’s petition to hear an appeal on the injunction.


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Photo: City worker reacts during 2011 layoff discussions. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.