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September 8, 2011 7:26 PM

Jones Day Wades into California City's Outsourcing Fight

Posted by Brian Baxter

Embroiled in a nasty battle over a proposal to outsource work now done by municipal employees, the city of Costa Mesa, Calif., has hired Jones Day to represent it in litigation brought by a union representing some of those employees.

Facing a revenue shortfall, Costa Mesa distributed layoff notices to almost half of its workforce earlier this year and announced plans to outsource the work of more than 200 municipal employees to private companies.

The budget fight, the subject of a recent article in The New Yorker, grabbed national attention in March when maintenance worker Huy Pham, who was among those threatened with losing their jobs, jumped to his death from atop City Hall just hours after the notices were dispersed.

On Tuesday, the Costa Mesa City Council approved a legal services contract hiring Jones Day at a rate of $495 per hour to defend it against a suit brought by the Costa Mesa City Employees Association, according to the Orange County Register.

In its suit, the union seeks a permanent injunction barring the city from moving ahead with its plan to lay off 213 municipal workers and outsource their duties to private companies. (An Orange County superior court judge issued a temporary restraining order in July barring Costa Mesa from proceeding with the privatization play unless it complies with certain state laws.)

A Jones Day spokesman told The Am Law Daily that Irvine, Calif.-based partners John Vogt, Jr., Richard Grabowski, and James Poth, as well as retired partner Thomas Malcolm, are advising Costa Mesa in the case. Thomas Duarte, an associate at Fullerton, Calif.–based Jones & Mayer, serves as Costa Mesa's city attorney.

In related business, the Costa Mesa city council approved the formation of certain committees this week to evaluate outsourcing procedures, according to The Register, and reorganized several city departments.

The city council also hired lawyers at a cost of between $295 and $325 per hour from California firm Hanson Bridgett to work with the city attorney's office on that effort, according to local news reports.

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