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Lawsuits follow layoffs
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Recent City Hall layoffs have City Attorney Mike Lyions busier now that legal challenges have arisen from those who have lost their jobs.

The city issued pink slips to 11 city employees in February in an attempt to cut spending and avoid huge budget deficits. The City Council took the action saying that layoffs were unavoidable since approximately 87 percent of the $20 million general fund is spent on labor and benefits. The layoffs will equate to a $1.13 million savings to city coffers.

A formal grievance was filed by the union that represents most of the laid off workers, the Miscellaneous Bargaining Unit. The union asserts that the city did not properly follow procedure for layoffs. The unit represents various city workers in the area of non-sworn public safety employees as well as those in planning, engineering, streets and public works.

"We have a difference of opinion regarding how the layoff procedures should apply and quite frankly it's complex," said City Attorney Mike Lyions. "They are basically stating that we should strictly follow only the provision of the Miscellaneous Bargaining Unit's memorandum of understanding on layoff procedures in the event of budetary cutbacks."

Lyions said the city feels it must also include provisions outlined in the city's personnel policies since the layoffs are related to the city's move to reorganize department structures.

A grievance hearing will be heard before an arbitrator -typically a judge or mediator - to determine if the city correctly conducted the layoffs. He said it's possible that the mediation could produce an "alternative scenario for layoffs."

Until there is a settlement, the city has postponed delivery of a severance package.