Castlewood Country Club may have to pony up $1.7 million in back pay and benefits, plus taxes, for its locked-out employees after a recent order from the National Labor Relations Board.
The club is engaging in "unfair labor practices," according to NLRB Regional Director William Baudler, who ordered Castlewood to calculate the amount of back pay and the taxes due on it.
The club and union had reached a tentative agreement regarding seniority on Feb. 25, 2010, the same day Castlewood locked out 61 employees, Baudler's order states.
In June or July 2010, Golf Department Director John Hughes told a union member that locked out employees "would never be allowed to return to work" at the club, the order notes.
Although the lockout began in February 2010, the order says the lockout has been illegal since August of last year. That was when Castlewood issued a revised offer, in which it said it would bring the workers back -- as long as the club managers could fire or lay people off without taking seniority into consideration.
"The club changed their seniority language to say they have the right to essentially permanently replace workers," said Nischit Hegde of UniteHERE local 2850, which represents the locked-out workers, who explained employers don't have the right to do that in a lockout.
It was that revised offer that amounted to an unfair labor practice, she said.
"When they put that in there, the real reason for locking out the workers came to pass. We understood that the club was trying to break the union, but with this (August) proposal they put it in writing," Hegde said. "You can't just say you want to replace the workers."
She said the amount of back pay owed the workers continues to rise every day they remain locked out, adding that the NLRB order means a court case is the next step.
"It is the federal government saying there is enough evidence to take Castlewood Country Club to court over this lockout," Hegde said. "Castlewood has the opportunity to defend themselves and they also have the opportunity to end the lockout."
The case is set to be heard Nov. 7.
Castlewood General Manager Jerry Olson did not return a call, and has refused to comment on the status of negotiations between the club management and the union in the past.
Union members and supporters took to the streets near the country club once again on Labor Day to protest the lockout.
The protests have led to some union members both from UniteHERE and supporting unions shouting at golfers on the country club's course, making noise during an outdoor wedding ceremony, and in one case, a physical altercation between a golfer and a union member. Hegde said, however, that she thinks fences can be mended.
"For over 30 years the union members and the members have had a very harmonious relationship. There are club members who have refused to go back to the club," she said. "I believe the workers will be able to go forward and I believe the members will, too."
She also defended a flier being circulated by union members urging Tri-Valley Animal Rescue to move a fundraising dinner from the club. The flier includes the name and cell phone number of TVAR's vice president, Lisa Healy -- information Hegde said was available over the Internet.
"I think the workers have been suffering quite a bit and to have a dinner, a benefit at Castlewood -- it is what it is and people want to say something about it," she said.