http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2012/08/24/labor-judge-rules-in-favor-of-locked-out-castlewood-workers


Pleasanton Weekly

News - August 24, 2012

Labor judge rules in favor of locked-out Castlewood workers

Country club could appeal decision

by Glenn Wohltmann

Castlewood Union members admit it may be a long fight, but for now, they've won a victory in what an administrative law judge has ruled was an illegal lockout.

Judge Clifford Anderson of the National Labor Relations Board recommended that the NLRB order Castlewood to reinstate the locked-out workers and pay them two years of back wages and benefits.

"We don't have an exact number, but we do know that the wages they were getting paid a year was $ 1.7 million so presumably for the past two years it would be about $3.4 million," said Sarah Norr, union organizer for UNITE HERE Local 2850, which represents the workers. However, Norr said, Castlewood could deduct the wages those workers earned elsewhere, so that would likely be a much lower figure.

The issue is far from being settled. Castlewood could ask for a review of the ruling-- the equivalent of an appeal -- which would go to the NLRB in Washington D.C. That could take another year or two.

Castlewood manager Jerry Olsen said club officials hadn't decided on their next steps.

"It's premature to really know what we're going to do. There's a number of options and our board of directors is meeting to discuss the options," Olsen said.

That meeting is "unscheduled at this time," he added.

During the appeal time, the local NLRB could require Castlewood to reinstate the workers, Norr said.

Beyond that, she said, "At any point we could reach a settlement with Castlewood."

Norr called the decision "great news," and said it's a big relief for workers to have a judge back their claims they were locked out illegally.

"We've been saying for two years that Castlewood wasn't giving us a fair chance to get our jobs back. Now Judge Anderson is saying the same thing. I hope this will be a wake-up call to the golfers that they need to stop stalling and put us back to work," said Castlewood cook Carlos Mejia.

Mejia is one of the 60 or so hourly full-time and part-time employees who were locked out of the country club on Feb. 25, 2010, in a dispute over health care costs.

Anderson also ruled that the club had stopped bargaining in good faith.

"Rather, it was unlawfully endeavoring to frustrate the bargaining process and reduce the possibility of the parties arriving at any agreement," the judge said. "I further find that the Respondent's conduct on that date and the positions taken in bargaining on that day were undertaken because of its animus toward the Union and animus to the locked out employees who supported the Union in bargaining."

Anderson gave Castlewood 28 days from the time of his finding to either accept the terms and pay the workers, or move forward with an appeal.

The cost of membership at the country club is currently $12,500; at one time it was $85,000, but the drop was due to the economy, not the dispute, club spokesman Vintage Foster said earlier this year.

Olsen said he's not sure if the country club has lost revenue because of the labor dispute,

"We had some tournaments leave but we replaced them with others," he said.

However, earlier this year, Foster acknowledged that some business had been lost because the union has approached organizations and told them, "We will not support you or your business if you hold your event there."

A protest at the country club's Valley golf course on Castlewood Drive was held Wednesday. A news release asked community supporters to join the locked-out workers and other union members "to demand an end to Castlewood's illegal 2-year-long lockout."

Union members pled their case to Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday night, asking for council members to join them at their protest.

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