Employee proposal promotes partnering with City


The Costa Mesa City Employees Association met with the City of Costa Mesa this afternoon for the second session of contract negotiations. CMCEA made its initial proposal to the City during the meeting.

“The City’s employees have made a proposal that conveys our desire to work collaboratively with the City,” CMCEA President Helen Nenadal said. “Our proposal focuses on partnering to help make Costa Mesa work better, work more efficiently, and deliver the best service possible to the community. It also includes some common-sense reforms aimed at improving accountability and transparency for the public. We truly hope the City will consider our proposal in the same spirit of collaboration.”


September 12, 2013



 All Costa Mesans can benefit from an approach to negotiations that seeks to restore trust and cooperation between the City Council and City employees by underscoring mutual respect, fairness, common sense, and accountability.

The initial CMCEA bargaining proposal has been deliberately crafted to convey the desire and willingness of employees to embark on a genuine collaborative effort with the City focused on making Costa Mesa work better, work more efficiently, and deliver the best possible service to the community.


PROPOSAL NO. 1            TERM – Two (2) years, commencing September 1, 2013, and ending August 31, 2015.


PROPOSAL NO. 2            PARTNERING ON EFFICIENCY – Establish a Citywide Lean program to facilitate the adoption and application of Lean process analysis and improvement methods to City government.

Lean is an approach to workplace improvement that provides proven principles, methods and tools for streamlining the delivery of services while at the same time developing a culture that encourages employee creativity and problem-solving skills. The central objective of Lean is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Lean can be applied at all levels of an organization to review processes from a resident point of view and consider what adds value and what can be eliminated.

Collaboration between all levels of City government is key to the success of any Lean initiative, and CMCEA makes this proposal with the hope that the City Council will step back from its more hostile approach to employee relations and instead dedicate itself to working together with employees to improve our community.

Lean was first developed by Toyota to improve its manufacturing process. In the private sector it soon spread beyond its manufacturing genesis and demonstrated its value across the entire spectrum of corporate operations. Over the past several years Lean has been enthusiastically championed in the public sector by elected officials across the political spectrum, from Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin to Governors Christine Gregoire and Jay Inslee in Washington.

Local governments have also reported dramatic Lean successes, including King County, Washington (Seattle), Coral Gables, Florida, and Denver, Colorado, saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Here in Orange County, several County departments have embarked upon and successfully implemented Lean initiatives, including the Sheriff’s Department and the Health Care Agency.

CMCEA would partner with the City to establish a Lean working group to develop internal Lean process expertise, identify service areas amenable to Lean initiatives, and guide the Lean process through to implementation.

PROPOSAL NO. 3            PARTNERING ON COMMON SENSE WAGE METRICS – Provide a general wage increase or decrease on September 1 of each year during the term of this agreement to all bargaining unit employees in a percentage amount equal to one-half of the percentage increase or decrease in total annual City General Fund revenue from the previous fiscal year, using Fiscal Year 2011-12 as the baseline year.

Since CMCEA-represented employees last saw a pay increase in 2008, they have repeatedly stepped up to help the City overcome its financial challenges. For example, CMCEA employees were the first to pay a portion of employee retirement contributions. CMCEA employees were the first to pay a portion of the City’s retirement contribution. CMCEA employees have taken furloughs, agreed to a lower retirement tier for new employees, suspended cash outs, and consistently and proactively sought ways to act as genuine partners with the City. Their efforts have saved Costa Mesa taxpayers millions of dollars.

Establishing common sense metrics for employee compensation benefits both employees and residents. It protects the City’s dedicated workforce from being vulnerable to the kind of political pressures that have characterized the City Council’s adversarial approach to employee relations over the past two and one-half years. At the same time, these metrics ensure accountability for taxpayers and continue the historic partnership CMCEA employees have always normally had with the City, characterized by shared sacrifice and measured prosperity.


PROPOSAL NO. 4            PARTNERING ON SICK LEAVE REFORM – (1) Eliminate future accruals to the current secondary leave bank; (2) require employees to exhaust any current secondary leave bank balance before utilizing normal sick leave; (3) reduce maximum sick leave accumulation from 480 hours to 432 hours; (4) reduce sick accrual from 3.6 hours per pay period to 3.2 hours per pay period.

Family structures have evolved beyond traditional nuclear families with a sole male breadwinner. In most two-parent families both spouses must work, and the sphere of family members they must care for during an illness has expanded beyond minor children to adult children and, increasingly, to parents. Single-parent workers face the same, yet often more difficult, challenges.

Sick leave provisions should address the realities that confront the contemporary workplace staffed by a contemporary workforce and should therefore be viewed less as a benefit and more as a wise investment in workplace efficiency, family and community. Further, workers should be encouraged to utilize sick leave for their own illnesses to ensure peak performance and minimize illness and absence among co-workers.

Still, CMCEA is aware of the City’s desire to exercise prudence and responsibility regarding sick leave use and accrual. In recognition of that desire and in a spirit of collaboration, CMCEA thus proposes to reduce sick leave accrual by more than 10%, to reduce sick leave accumulation by 10%, and to phase in an elimination of the secondary sick leave bank.


PROPOSAL NO. 5            PARTNERING ON EMPLOYEE PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS – All CMCEA-represented employees increase total CALPERS contributions from 8.52% of compensation to 10.469% of compensation and form an employer–employee working group to discuss future changes to CALPERS contribution levels.

CMCEA is committed to retirement security for all working people, including CMCEA members. It also believes that current fiscal challenges related to retirement security can be met by approaching those challenges fairly and collaboratively. CMCEA therefore proposes that, (1) CMCEA-represented employees increase their total CALPERS contribution from 8.52% to 10.469%, and (2) that during the term of the MOU CMCEA and the City form a working group to discuss future changes to CALPERS contribution levels.


PROPOSAL NO. 6            PARTNERING ON HEALTH CARE COSTS, WELLNESS AND THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT – Establish an employer-employee working group to develop and implement a Costa Mesa Employee Wellness Initiative and to consider ramifications of, and possible opportunities presented by, the Affordable Care Act. Provide CMCEA-represented employees with the same flexible benefit provided to the City’s Division Managers. 

The cost of health care is a major challenge for employers and employees alike. Wellness initiatives are not a panacea, but properly crafted efforts strongly supported by an employer’s leadership have been proven to have measurable success in creating a healthier workforce and positively impacting employee absenteeism, disability, and use of both chronic and acute health care.

With implementation of the Affordable Care Act soon upon us, the City and its employees should jointly analyze and be prepared to address possible challenges and opportunities implementation might present.

Finally, the City has provided CMCEA-represented employees with the same flat dollar flexible benefit since 2008. CMCEA proposes that the City provide CMCEA-represented employees with the same flexible benefit provided to Division Managers, but with the opt-out amount limited to the lower flexible benefit amount currently provided to CMCEA-represented employees.


PROPOSAL NO. 7            PARTNERING ON ALTERNATE WORK SCHEDULES – Where operationally feasible and beneficial, implement 9/80 and/or 4/10 work schedules.

CMCEA is committed to operational efficiency City-wide. It is CMCEA’s position that certain City functions are more efficiently performed by, and that the public benefits from, employees working alternate work schedules. CMCEA therefore proposes that where operationally feasible and beneficial, alternate work schedules be implemented.


PROPOSAL NO. 8            PARTNERING ON TRANSPARENCY, DISCLOSURE AND ACCOUNTABILITY – Include transparency, disclosure and accountability language in the MOU covering any proposed City contract impacting work performed by a member of CMCEA and/or a classification represented by CMCEA.

In September 2012 the City Council majority adopted the COIN Ordinance requiring public disclosure of certain information in connection with negotiations between the City and its represented employees.

CMCEA and its members are advocates of genuine transparency, disclosure and accountability in Costa Mesa. CMCEA believes it is important to promote transparency, disclosure and accountability beyond just one area – labor negotiations, which targets one group of people who negotiate contracts with the City – represented City employees.

CMCEA believes a commitment to transparency, disclosure and accountability is laudable when it is applied uniformly to those who transact business with the City, and only when it imposes on Council members the same degree of responsibility and accountability they seek to require of others.

CMCEA therefore proposes a new Transparency, Disclosure and Accountability article in the MOU (see attached), which will require disclosure to CMCEA of certain ex parte communications and campaign contributions involving City Council members, potential contractors, and lobbyists.



The City has in the past asked employees to agree to close non-essential City functions for business between Christmas and New Year’s as a cost-saving measure. CMCEA proposes that the parties continue this collaborative cost-saving effort by closing for business from December 24, 2013 through January 1, 2014 and December 24, 2014 through January 1, 2015.



After two and one-half years of uncertainty, Costa Mesa, its residents and employees will all benefit from assured continuity of municipal services and relative stability in the workplace. A commitment by the City to not institute layoffs during the term of this MOU will be a significant step in that direction.

CMCEA understands that the City might desire to retain some flexibility with respect to staffing in the event of an unforeseen emergency. Therefore CMCEA proposes that the City agree not to institute layoffs of CMCEA-represented employees during the term of the MOU, but also proposes an exception that would permit layoffs deemed necessary should the City encounter a catastrophic fiscal emergency. A “catastrophic fiscal emergency” shall be defined as a decline in City fiscal year general fund revenue of greater than five percent (5%), using fiscal year 2011-12 as a baseline.



Article 1.9 of the MOU contains an acknowledgement that the parties have complied with all terms and conditions of prior MOUs. CMCEA is unwilling to acknowledge such compliance by the City and proposes deleting the Article.