A labor dispute involving 40 full-time and part-time employees at Castlewood Country Club could disrupt services at the prestigious organization's golf course and dining rooms if not resolved.
Wei-Ling Shuber of Bay Area's Unite Here! Local 2850 and the local union's negotiator at Castlewood, said she met with Castlewood's management negotiators until late Wednesday. Although some union members have heard that the club might lock out union workers as early as today if a new contract was not in place, the two sides agreed Wednesday to continue the current contract terms for two weeks when both sides will meet again.
Shuber said Castlewood management gave the union its "final contract offer" in December. Most onerous, she said, are hikes in health care premiums for unionized workers which, up to now, have been fully covered by Castlewood.
Under the management contract offer, workers would have to shift from a union-sponsored plan to one controlled by Castlewood. Monthly fees would jump from zero to $366.93 a month for single policies and to $739.08.for families. A medical insurance tracking formula computed by Kaiser shows that those rates would jump about 10 percent a year.
Shuber said the union's health care plan through Castlewood covers 67 individuals—40 employees and the others spouses and children of those employees. One worker's daughter has leukemia and is concerned that if the family is forced to switch to another health care plan the daughter might not be able to qualify for continued coverage.
Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman, who met with two Castlewood employees, said: "With the average wage of union workers at Castlewood now $12.52 an hour, these new premiums would make it impossible for these people to pay the costs."
"The union said it acted in 'good faith' by agreeing to a wage freeze," Hosterman said. "Its contract proposal also called for health care payments, amounting to $25 for singles, $100 for single plus 1 and $175 for families. It's my understanding that management has flatly rejected the union's offer and has ordered a lockout if Local 2850 doesn't sign Castlewood's final contract offer."
Hosterman said she understands that Castlewood has been losing members because of the recession and has fielded a deficit budget for several years. The more aggressive stance towards Local 2850 is an effort to change the financial course of the club.
"I had two union members who work at Castlewood come to see me," Hosterman said. "They reside in Pleasanton and have been living paycheck to paycheck as it is just trying to pay the rent and keep their kids in Pleasanton schools. They told me union workers at Castlewood couldn't afford the high health care premiums, that they rely on the health care policies they have for themselves and their families, and they are afraid they're going to lose their jobs."
Hosterman said she has asked Castlewood's general manager Jerry Olson to consider a "time out" before imposing the new contract and maintaining a status quo to give these employees time to determine their next step.
So far, neither Olson nor John Hughes, the club's senior pro, has returned calls made yesterday by the Weekly. Dining room manager Tom Hunt said he couldn't respond to questions about the labor dispute and that only Olson could speak for the club.
Hosterman, meanwhile, said she will stay involved as much as she can to avoid job losses and to help the two sides reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
"I'll do whatever I can to resolve this dispute," Hosterman said.