Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Are you on strike?
A: No, we have been LOCKED OUT by Club managers. We are ready and willing to go back to work today, tomorrow or any time. There is no reason – legal or otherwise – why the club cannot end the lockout today!
Q: Why don’t you just accept the Club’s contract so you can go back to work?
A: First of all, our families need affordable health care. Under the Club’s most recent proposal, we would pay $849.75 per month for family health insurance – more than 40% of the average worker’s wages! Most of us simply can’t afford this. Remember, some of us make $10 an hour with no tips. Before the lockout we had 67 of our spouses and kids on the Club health plan. Many of them have nowhere else to turn for health care. What would happen to them if they are sick or injured and we can’t afford health care for them?
Second – after more than two years out in the street, we can’t agree to give up our job security. Six months into the lockout, the Board made a new proposal that would allow it to lay off or cut hours for longtime workers, while keeping new hires on the job – without showing that the older workers had done anything wrong. The proposal also lets the Club subcontract out some of our jobs, and hire non-union workers for any position. The Club already locked us out and brought in non-union temp workers to do our jobs – so what would happen to us if we sign a contract that would allow us to be laid off without cause at any time?
Q: Can Castlewood afford to pay what you want?
A: Yes! Our proposal saves Castlewood nearly $9,000 per month over the old contract – about 30% of the Club’s total spending for our health care. We offered to give up raises, move to a lower-quality health plan, increase our contribution to health care to $225 per month for family coverage, cut off all health benefits for part-time workers, and wait longer to begin qualifying for health care. But that’s not enough for the Club managers – they want to slash spending for our health care by 50%, by making family coverage unaffordable for most workers.
The difference between our proposal and the Club’s comes out to about 29 cents per day for each Club member! Since many members paid upwards of $25,000 for their membership, plus $600 a month in dues, we believe they can afford 29 cents a day so our children can have health care.
Q: Does the union really represent the workers?
A: On April 2nd, 2010, we voted overwhelmingly (41 to 17) to keep our union representation – even though management held special meetings to tell us we could return to work the next day if we voted against the union. The vote was a secret ballot election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.
Q: Do the workers want to accept the Club’s contract?
A: In December 2009 and again in March 2010, a majority of workers signed petitions rejecting the club’s contract proposal. In March 2011, a year into the lockout, 40 workers appeared in a video discussing their reasons for standing strong against the Club’s offer. (The video below is a shortened version – for the full piece with all 40 workers, click here.)
Q: How has the lockout affected the Club?
A: The Club’s own data show that it lost $370,000 during the year 2010, while the lockout was going on. (By comparison, the Club made a $158,000 profit in 2009 – in a recession economy, and while paying the full cost of union workers’ family medical care). What might account for the change?
First, the Club spent over $300,000 (in 2010 alone) on legal fees related to the lockout. We believe that money could be better spent on health care for our children! Second, numerous golf tournaments and other events have been canceled or have not returned after crossing our picket line once.
Meanwhile, the Club no longer provides the “peaceful escape” promised by its web site. In an application for a restraining order (later denied), General Manager Jerry Olson described the impact of the pickets: “No golf course of any type, whether public or private or the highest to the poorest quality, would tolerate bullhorns, drum playing and chanting of slogans anywhere on the golf course premises . . . By its very nature, such activity improperly and impermissibly disrupts how the game of golf is played.”
Q: If your proposal saves the Club money, and the lockout is hurting it financially, why hasn’t the Club settled the dispute?
A: It appears that the Club leadership’s ideology is getting in the way of common sense solutions. In negotiations, General Manager Jerry Olson told us that the Club is “philosophically opposed” to paying for family health benefits, even if workers make up the cost by giving up wages and other benefits. The Club has also urged us to decertify our union, and told us that if we get rid of the union we can come back to work the next day.
Q: Couldn’t the Club just fire all the union workers?
A: Under U.S. law, it is illegal to permanently replace locked-out workers. All locked-out employees must be allowed to return to work when the contract is settled.
Q: Is this legal?
A: In August 2011, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued a Complaint charging that Castlewood has maintained an unlawful lockout “in order to deny the Locked Out Employees the right to return to their former positions of employment because the Locked Out Employees joined and/or supported the Union, and to discourage employees from engaging in Union activities.” NLRB Administrative Law Judge Clifford Anderson conducted a hearing on the case in January-March 2012, and a decision is expected in June. The East Bay Express reported that Castlewood’s lawyer, Robert Hulteng of Littler Mendelson, admitted to doctoring his notes from Castlewood contract negotiations after the union filed charges against the Club. The notes were used as evidence in the NLRB hearing.
Q: What are the union workers doing to fight for a fair contract?
A: Workers have maintained high-energy twice-daily pickets on the Club’s secluded golf courses since February 2010. They have also called and visited dozens of Castlewood’s outside clients, resulting in the cancellation of numerous high-profile events, parties and golf tournaments. They have also spoken to countless local churches, unions and community organizations, garnering broad support in the community and turning out hundreds of supporters for major actions.
Q: What can I do to support you?
A: Come join us on the picket line! See our events page for a picket calendar and notices of upcoming actions. To receive email announcements about other pickets, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donate! Contributions from supporters like you have been absolutely vital in sustaining us through this tough fight. Please donate whatever you can – as often as you can! – to the workers’ hardship fund.
Call! Please call General Manager Jerry Olson at 925-485-2232 and Board President Jim Clouser at (925) 846-2871 and ask them to let us come back to work and to provide affordable family health care and job security for workers.