Union workers locked out of their jobs at Castlewood Country Club will be "celebrating" Easter this morning at their picket line with music, a barbeque, and supporting statements from local community leaders.
"We have sacrificed a lot because of this lockout," said
Castlewood worker Maria Muños. "What better time than Easter Week would there be for management to offer to call us back to work and return to the bargaining table?"
Easter Sunday will mark the 39th day the workers have been locked out of their jobs, despite major contract concessions to their employer, the union representative said. .
Management at the club locked out workers Feb. 25 after UniteHere! Local 2850 union rejected Castlewood's "final" contract offer. The union represents Bay Area hotel and restaurant workers and also Castlewood's unionized workforce of bartenders, kitchen helpers, waiters and other hourly employees at Castlewood.
In the meantime, the club is using an outside agency to bring in temporary workers as needed to fill the positions, which pay an average of $12.50 an hour plus tips.
According to the union, negotiations stalled when the country club refused to back away from asking its hourly union and non-union employees to contribute $739 per month toward their health care costs, which union leaders claim is three times the national average and nearly 40 percent of the average take home pay of the locked out employees.
Country club management said it plans to continue covering workers in the single-rate category free of charge, but will impose the higher rates for those with family plan coverage.
The change took effect immediately for the non-union workforce, but the union rejected the demand, refusing to sign the contract offer imposing the new heath care conditions.
Officials Local 2850, which represents the locked out workers, also announced that those members had voted by a margin of 41 to 17 to continue to be represented by that local.
Wei Ling Huber, president of the local, said the employees have had union representation at Castlewood since the 1970s and have never before been involved in a labor dispute with Castlewood.
Huber said the country club's management had insisted for weeks that a majority of the workers didn't support the member bargaining team's fight for retaining family health care benefits.
"The vote proved that management was wrong," Huber said. "A substantial majority of the workers support the union and they believe family medical benefits are worth fighting for."
Huber said that among the concessions the workers have offered this year have been an increase in medical insurance co-payments from 0 to $225 per month, a greater number of hours worked to qualify for medical benefits, a wage freeze in the first year and a loosening of seniority protections.
On Tuesday, the Pleasanton City Council will take up the issue of the lockout at its regular meeting. The council agreed to place the lockout issue on its agenda after 25 locked out workers and their families told the council on March 16 of their financial hardships by having no paychecks.
Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and council members Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Matt Sullivan agreed to consider the issue, although Councilwoman Cindy McGovern questioned what the Pleasanton council could do since the Castlewood Country Club is not within the city limits.
Councilman Jerry Thorne was not at the March 16 meeting but is expected to be at next Tuesday's public hearing on the Castlewood issue.
Unite Here Local 2850 represents over 2,000 workers across the East Bay Area in hotels, airport concessions, gaming, and food service, including 61 workers at Castlewood Country Club.