News

20 protesters arrested after blocking Castlewood Drive

Lockout of Country Club staff entering 16th month

About 20 people protesting the ongoing lockout of Castlewood workers were arrested Thursday morning for blocking Castlewood Drive in what organizers described as an act of civil disobedience.

The protest drew close to 100 demonstrators and nearly 50 police officers from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and Pleasanton. Castlewood Drive was blocked from just before 8 a.m. until about 11:15, when the protesters blocking the road were taken into custody.

It seemed to be a cooperative arrest; the arresting officers were polite and none of the demonstrators offered any resistance. In fact, the crowd ceased its chanting each time an officer from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office made the required announcement: "On behalf of the state of California, I demand that you leave immediately. If you fail to leave, you will be arrested."

The lockout of union workers from Castlewood Country Club is entering its 16th month, with neither side budging. Bartenders, kitchen helpers, waiters and other hourly full-time and part-time employees, about 60 in all, were locked out of the country club on Feb. 25, 2010, in a dispute over health care costs.

The country club is hosting its largest golf tournament of the year today, the Men's Invitational. Golfers were delayed about 20 minutes because of the protesters.

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Today's road blockage, with protesters holding a duct-tape-wrapped cardboard chain across the road, came just in time to complicate life for morning commuters leaving Castlewood and forced cars to detour around the section of Foothill Road near the country club as well.

At one point, a half dozen or so golf carts were halted around the crowd. Golfers seemed to be unperturbed by the protest, although at one point golfers were taunted by a couple of demonstrators; the bulk of the crowd occasionally broke into the chant: "All you golfers look around, we need justice in this town."

The union events began with some demonstrators blocking the road while others stood behind them or along the side of the intersection of Castlewood Drive and Foothill Road while organizers led the crowd in chants. After that, about 40 protesters marched, continuing their chants, with speeches by union organizers from a half-dozen unions who came out to support the locked-out workers.

Wei-Ling Huber, president of UniteHere local 2850, which represents the workers, told the crowd that during the last year, Castlewood Country Club has spent three times as much as it would have paid the workers, the money going for lawyers, security and the new staff brought in by the club.

"This has always been about power," Huber said. "They thought we would cave in. … They were absolutely wrong.

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"We're going to go back, we're going to go back with a contract, and we're going to go back with a union."

Huber was joined by members of the faith community, a group of Democrats from Hayward and other union leaders, including some from UniteHere local 2, based out of San Francisco, which in March reached a deal with Hilton Hotel after an 18-month labor dispute.

Club Manager Jerry Olson watched on the sidelines for a time, chatting with golfers and residents. He said both sides are taking the issue seriously.

"I think we're both committed to our positions," Olson said. He refused to comment on the status of negotiations between the club management and the union.

During the chants and march, while some protesters blocked the road, police directed traffic and provided crowd control. After about three hours, a bus arrived to transport those to be arrested, along with more than a dozen officers in riots gear: helmets, batons and body armor. None of that was needed however, and the arrests, handled by other officers, seemed to go smoothly with officers actually helping one protester on crutches as he walked to the bus.

Despite the animosity between the union and many of those who live in the Castlewood community, there seemed to be support from some residents. One entered the long driveway up to the club with a handmade sign taped to his car that backed the locked-out workers, and another in a Corvette stopped to drop off water to the workers.

The sides on the lockout remain in the same stalemate they've been in for months. Originally, management offered a contract that would have to shift workers from a union-sponsored health 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.

After months of talks, management offered to bring the workers back -- as long as the club managers could fire or lay people off without taking seniority into consideration.

The union has proposed a contract that would raise health care to $225 a month, restrict health benefits to full-time employees, and accept a wage freeze in the first year and very low raises in later years, which the union said would more than offset any costs to Castlewood.

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20 protesters arrested after blocking Castlewood Drive

Lockout of Country Club staff entering 16th month

by Glenn Wohltmann / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Jun 23, 2011, 2:02 pm

About 20 people protesting the ongoing lockout of Castlewood workers were arrested Thursday morning for blocking Castlewood Drive in what organizers described as an act of civil disobedience.

The protest drew close to 100 demonstrators and nearly 50 police officers from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and Pleasanton. Castlewood Drive was blocked from just before 8 a.m. until about 11:15, when the protesters blocking the road were taken into custody.

It seemed to be a cooperative arrest; the arresting officers were polite and none of the demonstrators offered any resistance. In fact, the crowd ceased its chanting each time an officer from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office made the required announcement: "On behalf of the state of California, I demand that you leave immediately. If you fail to leave, you will be arrested."

The lockout of union workers from Castlewood Country Club is entering its 16th month, with neither side budging. Bartenders, kitchen helpers, waiters and other hourly full-time and part-time employees, about 60 in all, were locked out of the country club on Feb. 25, 2010, in a dispute over health care costs.

The country club is hosting its largest golf tournament of the year today, the Men's Invitational. Golfers were delayed about 20 minutes because of the protesters.

Today's road blockage, with protesters holding a duct-tape-wrapped cardboard chain across the road, came just in time to complicate life for morning commuters leaving Castlewood and forced cars to detour around the section of Foothill Road near the country club as well.

At one point, a half dozen or so golf carts were halted around the crowd. Golfers seemed to be unperturbed by the protest, although at one point golfers were taunted by a couple of demonstrators; the bulk of the crowd occasionally broke into the chant: "All you golfers look around, we need justice in this town."

The union events began with some demonstrators blocking the road while others stood behind them or along the side of the intersection of Castlewood Drive and Foothill Road while organizers led the crowd in chants. After that, about 40 protesters marched, continuing their chants, with speeches by union organizers from a half-dozen unions who came out to support the locked-out workers.

Wei-Ling Huber, president of UniteHere local 2850, which represents the workers, told the crowd that during the last year, Castlewood Country Club has spent three times as much as it would have paid the workers, the money going for lawyers, security and the new staff brought in by the club.

"This has always been about power," Huber said. "They thought we would cave in. … They were absolutely wrong.

"We're going to go back, we're going to go back with a contract, and we're going to go back with a union."

Huber was joined by members of the faith community, a group of Democrats from Hayward and other union leaders, including some from UniteHere local 2, based out of San Francisco, which in March reached a deal with Hilton Hotel after an 18-month labor dispute.

Club Manager Jerry Olson watched on the sidelines for a time, chatting with golfers and residents. He said both sides are taking the issue seriously.

"I think we're both committed to our positions," Olson said. He refused to comment on the status of negotiations between the club management and the union.

During the chants and march, while some protesters blocked the road, police directed traffic and provided crowd control. After about three hours, a bus arrived to transport those to be arrested, along with more than a dozen officers in riots gear: helmets, batons and body armor. None of that was needed however, and the arrests, handled by other officers, seemed to go smoothly with officers actually helping one protester on crutches as he walked to the bus.

Despite the animosity between the union and many of those who live in the Castlewood community, there seemed to be support from some residents. One entered the long driveway up to the club with a handmade sign taped to his car that backed the locked-out workers, and another in a Corvette stopped to drop off water to the workers.

The sides on the lockout remain in the same stalemate they've been in for months. Originally, management offered a contract that would have to shift workers from a union-sponsored health 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.

After months of talks, management offered to bring the workers back -- as long as the club managers could fire or lay people off without taking seniority into consideration.

The union has proposed a contract that would raise health care to $225 a month, restrict health benefits to full-time employees, and accept a wage freeze in the first year and very low raises in later years, which the union said would more than offset any costs to Castlewood.

Comments

Confused
Foothill High School
on Jun 23, 2011 at 5:47 pm
Confused, Foothill High School
on Jun 23, 2011 at 5:47 pm

I am confused how anyone could say that an employment system based on seniority is better than one based on merit? I would be far more tolerable of unions if they didnt fight for this.


CCC Member
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm
CCC Member, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Alameda County should bill the union for the expense of removing the protesters from the roadway. I am sure it is in the neighborhood of $20,000 for all of the offiers that were there. The Union needs to get a life and move on since they aren't welcomed back at Castlewood.
The article is wrong, the employees medical, dental and vision is paid for by the employer. In other words it is FREE. They only need to pay for their spouse or family if they want it. Times are changing and the unions better get on the train or they will all be left standing at the station wondering what happened to all of the jobs.


Marie
Birdland
on Jun 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm
Marie, Birdland
on Jun 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm

So tell me who pays for this, let me guess us??


Concerned
Carriage Gardens
on Jun 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm
Concerned, Carriage Gardens
on Jun 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm

How great is this country that a bunch of wealthy golfers don't get to run roughshod over their low wage employees? Keep fighting workers, you've got the law and most of your community on your side.


Nomo Dems
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2011 at 8:22 am
Nomo Dems, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2011 at 8:22 am

If you don't like this stupidity going on at our expense (higher costs for the products and serivces you buy, cost to the country dealing the the meatheads) for crying out loud vote out the Democrats. California is withering on the vine because of the powerful unions in this state, and the Democrats just keep making them stronger. Vote them out!


Sal
Downtown
on Jun 24, 2011 at 8:42 am
Sal, Downtown
on Jun 24, 2011 at 8:42 am

Nothing like a bunch of republican, frat-boy golfers mocking low wage workers looking for a livable wage! I saw one image of a golfer pretending to hit a golf ball at the protesters. Stay classy conservatives!


Amazon
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:01 am
Amazon, Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:01 am

Forget all these union/nonunion fingerpointing here....you're just bringing in other issues so you can rant and finger wag about. So let's focus on solutions.

My bet is what these golf club members spend just on their booze/bar and snack shack bills every month is more than what is needed to cover the worker's monthly health care costs. So what if the golf club members could just pony up those amounts to the worker's health care? Then it's a win win - the golf club members get a healthier liver, lower cholesterol, and a better weight. While the workers actually get some health care coverage.

And there's a solution.


kolohe
another community
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:13 am
kolohe, another community
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:13 am

to ccc comment:
they already receive free med, dental, and vision? tho they don't want to pay for their families insurances? well, i get my insurance paid by my employer and i have to pay for my spouse and child what are these union reps thinking? i was delayed yesterday by the protesters. Tho it was very frightening to come down a usually quiet street, to a wall of people, and they just kept on coming. i'm glad i was out before it got crazy. maybe they should come out to the real world.


ss
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:29 am
ss, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:29 am

Some of these comments are really ignorant. In this day and age, what employers offer full medical benefits for the employees entire family for free, especially minimum wage earners. In this economic climate, they should have been happy to even have a job. Most of the cars that pass through the entrance at castlewood are from homeowners just trying to get to and from their residences. Is it unfair to prevent people from getting to their homes even though they have nothing to do with the dispute? many of them aren't even members of the club.this is just a case of trespassing and infringement of others civil rights. The workers need to get wise to the tactics of their union, that threw them under the bus to make their unreasonable demands


SteveP
Registered user
Parkside
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:36 am
SteveP, Parkside
Registered user
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:36 am

Sal-no one owes these protesters a living. At this point, if they feel their services and skills are not being fully appreciated, they should go work elsehwere where they might reach their full potential.
By the way, not all golfers are Republican---many of the elite Dems who recently contributed at the $2500/plate Obama fundraiser are golfers. Nice try, though, sallie.


Concerned CCC member
Registered user
Rosepointe
on Jun 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm
Concerned CCC member, Rosepointe
Registered user
on Jun 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Castlewood members need to get wise to the tactics of their Board “that threw them under the bus” to make their unreasonable demands upon their workers, both union and non-union. Let’s be honest, this is about union busting, not economics. This lockout is costing members much more to fight than to settle. It has to date and will continue to do so in the future. By the way it is the Union that wants every employee to pay a bit for health care, no free ride for employees or families, and it is the Board who wants a free ride for workers while “throwing their spouses and children under the bus.” Doesn’t sound like strategic business or human capital management. There is room to settle if CCC members pay attention and demand serious negotiation on the part of their Board.


JB
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 24, 2011 at 10:03 pm
JB, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 24, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I wish that the union workers would recognize that it is their union dues that are funding union management and disruptive activities such as this, that otherwise would be paid to the people doing work. The facts are embarrassingly candid:
- most employers today will pay for only a portion of employee and family healthcare. It is reasonable for the employee to share this burden. Why does the union feel they should be treated differently?
- Castlewood has established that the workers were being paid well above the average wage rate paid to comparable country club and restaurant workers in the Bay Area. Why does the union believe that they are entitled to above market wages?
- The union does not support a meritocracy where high performing employees can be rewarded for their contribution, they would rather protect un-productive workers with seniority. My experience is that the highly productive workers actually resent the free riders.
- What gives the union the right to disrupt social activities such as weddings (once a life-time beautiful experiences), and Easter brunches.
- The union workers need to de-certify the union and go back to work. They will be welcomed!


Concerned CCC member
Registered user
Rosepointe
on Jun 25, 2011 at 5:13 pm
Concerned CCC member, Rosepointe
Registered user
on Jun 25, 2011 at 5:13 pm

As JB points out, most employers pay for part of the employee and family healthcare, just as the union proposes. From the data provided early on by the Club it appears that the union healthcare proposal falls in the second quartile of local private country club benefits and the Union agreed to no pay raise, so it would appear they are going where JB proposes – market driven total compensation. The union’s preference for seniority or merit is their members’ choice, but in any case if management manages then unproductive workers can be disciplined or let go. Disruption is the natural counter to a lockout. The Club should have expected this, and they should expect it if they continue the lockout. This is what unions do. If the members want it to stop then they need to tell their Board to negotiate a settlement, or end the lockout. The union workers did vote and they overwhelming voted to keep their union. Perhaps it is time for CCC members to be given the opportunity to vote on a settlement or mediation.


RestOfStory
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm
RestOfStory, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm

It would be really nice if the P.W. would mention somewhere in these biased articles that the workers have never once been allowed to vote on any contract offered by Castlewood. This is true both before and after the date of the lockout. Let the workers vote--after all, it is there jobs at stake here, not those of the union bosses in Oakland who refused to even respond to any of Castlewood's pre-lockout contract offers.


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