Castlewood, union agree to new three-year contract
Workers will pay $225 monthly for family health insurance
After three years, the battle between locked out workers and Castlewood Country Club has come to a close with a new contract signed by union members.
The members voted 44-1 to approve the new three-year contract, under which they will pay $225 per month for family health insurance -- what the union proposed before the lockout began. Employee contributions will drop to $150 for the final year of the contract.
Workers will also get what the union described as "a substantial signing bonus."
"There's an internal agreement not to disclose the amount," said Sarah Norr of UniteHERE local 2850. "It's something that people were overwhelmingly happy about."
While the union had claimed Castlewood could owe millions to pay workers for the time they were locked out, Norr said that issue didn't end up being a priority in the negotiations. She said figuring out how much would be owed could be complicated; Castlewood would have to pay the workers, who in turn would have to pay the state for unemployment money they received.
"The workers decided that they would focus on the future," she said.
The fight was nominally over last October, when Castlewood ended its lockout and brought the employees back to work.
That decision followed an August ruling by National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Clifford Anderson, who found that Castlewood had maintained an unlawful lockout for the previous two years.
Anderson also ruled that Castlewood had bargained in bad faith and that its bargaining proposals were motivated by hostility toward the union.
The lockout began in February 2010 after contract negotiations between the club and the union soured. Castlewood proposed raising workers' share of family health care costs to $739 a month, more than 40% of the average worker's pay.
The club also urged employees to decertify the union, but workers voted 41-17 to continue union representation.
Six months into the lockout, Castlewood made new proposals that would have stripped away seniority and job security and allowed subcontracting of workers' jobs. The proposal would also have made it optional for workers to pay union dues, and increased the cost of family health care even further.
The proposals prompted the union to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board and led to the August ruling by Anderson.
The lockout was contentious, with workers picketing in front of Castlewood's golf course and a protest that led to 23 arrests when demonstrators blocked Castlewood Drive.
During the lockout, protests drew political leaders, including County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, members of other unions and local clergy.