In a heated match of tug-of-war, the city council of Costa Mesa continues to pull for outsourcing jail services, despite the employee union’s strong disapproval.
In a recent suit with the Orange County Superior Court, Costa Mesa City Employees Association won an injunction forbidding the city “from contracting with a private entity for any of the services that are performed by CMCEA members or laying off CMCEA members as a result of contracting,” the Orange County Register reported.
The injunction, however, has not prevented Costa Mesa from outsourcing contracts. Council members argue they have the right to outsource since they are a “general law” city that follows state laws.
The city council is attempting to persuade the union that outsourcing jail services will save the city millions of dollars, a benefit in saving taxpayer money.
The outsourcing of jail services would benefit the city as a whole; the union recognizes this, even if they choose to fight against it. The real issue here is that union members are holding on to the fact that council members aren’t “honoring” a contract.
The union’s issue with the council is not over money or outsourcing—instead it is a battle over power.
The city claims that a contract with G4S will save Costa Mesa millions of dollars, which really has no downside if the money saved is being put toward other good use. Instead of assuming that Costa Mesa city council is corrupt, the union should focus on putting its efforts to finding out where the proposed city savings will go toward.
G4S, an international security solutions group, is proposing to enter into a five-year service contract with Costa Mesa jail, which would save the city a potential savings of $603,460 per year, with an estimated savings of over $3 million over the proposed five-year contract.
Costa Mesa has a current preliminary budget of $1.3 million per year for staffing Costa Mesa’s Type I Jail Facility, according to the OC Register.
Tom Hatch, Costa Mesa city CEO, said current jail employees will not be laid off and “could be hired for other positions or hired by G4S” in an email statement.
Although the city’s decision to hire G4S, a security company, in replacement of current jail security may be frowned upon by some, it is following the law of the injunction.
Unfortunately, Hatch’s promises are not enough for the union. Perhaps they don’t trust the council to save their jobs and would rather avoid outsourcing services all-around, even if it means saving the city millions of dollars.
The Orange County Employees Association also believes the city may be wrongfully misinterpreting the court’s past ruling. Well, if the judge who issued the injunction believes the city is in the wrong, he or she should find the council in contempt and then remove the violators from office—this has yet to happen.
G4S continues to serve neighboring Southern California cities with no complaints. They currently manages jail services in Irvine, La Habra, Azusa, Beverly Hills and Whittier, along with handling prisoner transportation for the Department of Homeland Security-U.S. Border Patrol, which makes for a seemingly reputable security resume.
The city believes they are doing nothing wrong, and they aren’t. Meanwhile CMCEA members are placing their faith in the justice system to stop the city from so-called “unlawful acts.”
Costa Mesa regards CMCEA’s “veto” over Costa Mesa’s contracting decision to be a “meaningless and wasteful exercise” since Costa Mesa is following what MOU required, which was to include the union on discussions of outsourcing.
If Costa Mesa wants more freedom in its decisions on outsourcing, it should vote to become a charter city, which will be on the November ballot this year.