Pleasanton Weekly

News - April 30, 2010

Castlewood-union talks fail with worker lockout

Country club toughens December offer, which workers already rejected

by Glenn Wohltmann

The lockout of hourly unionized workers at Castlewood Country Club is continuing after a two-hour meeting Tuesday between union leaders and club management failed to break a stalemate over terms of a new contract.

Union representatives who were at the meeting said the club's negotiating team actually backtracked to a proposal it offered in December, adding new conditions, said UniteHere! Local 2850 President Wei-Ling Huber.

"We had hoped that they would have a response to the last proposal that was made, which was a proposal we made on Feb. 25," Huber said. "They are moving back to the proposal they made on Dec. 23, which is a proposal that's worse than their February proposal."

Huber said the company added four additional conditions.

"The most important one was one that would allow the company to sub-contract union jobs more easily through outside companies," she said.

Asked what it would take to end the picketing, Huber said: "Return the workers to work and agree to a 60-day cooling off period. The union thought that would give us time to resolve the bargaining issues. We would cease the demonstrations, the workers would go back to work, and we would begin the contract bargaining during the cooling off period."

She said the company would not accept that offer.

"If there was a straight up or down vote, the workers - 100 percent of them - would go back to work, but the company is conditioning that on them (the locked-out workers) accepting the last and final offer made in December, which includes $739 in healthcare costs per family plus the four additional proposals that were made," Huber said.

She said that's unacceptable to the employees.

Castlewood General Manager Jerry Olson could not be reached for comment on Tuesday's meeting.

Huber said another meeting will be set up when the two sides can match their schedules, but she's doubtful any solution will come from more meetings with Olson and the company's attorney, David Murphy.

"I think that the resolution will have to be when the membership of the club and the board realize what's happening is ultimately not good for the club," she said.

Workers have been locked out of Castlewood since Feb. 25. The union's three-year contract expired in July 2008 but was extended an additional year by the club.

Meanwhile, the union is awaiting a decision from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on complaints made before the lockout began.

"We believe the company brought in a subcontracting company (and) they outsourced work that was previously done by union workers," Huber said. "They sent laundry out to another company, and they brought in a cleaning company to clean the kitchen. As a result of that, a dishwasher and a maintenance worker were laid off."

She said the union filed a grievance on behalf of Francisca Carranza, a janitor at Castlewood, and filed an additional complaint with the NLRB.

"The NLRB has been taking witnesses for testimony for about a month now," Huber said.

She added that back pay for Carranza is one of the key issues before the labor board.

Tuesday's negotiating session followed a Monday "community meeting" hosted by the union at the Pleasanton Public Library. At that meeting, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty called on the country club to resume negotiations with the union.

"I believe this whole thing is unnecessary," he said, noting that he opposes all lockouts.

"I still believe that if we could get a couple of pizzas and some calm minds at the table, we could work this out," Haggerty told the 30 people who attended, mainly union workers.

He said the lockout is a drain on county health care and social services.

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