Thursday, December 20, 2012

Castlewood Country Club Workers Return to Picket Line

By Steven Tavares
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Picketing near the frosty front nine of the Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton, workers who were locked out for more than 900 days are demanding management pay them $1.8 million in back pay and benefits following a judge’s order ending the lockout earlier this year. The National Labor Relations Board in August declared Castlewood’s lockout of workers, which began August 10, 2010, was illegal and found the country club had engaged in unfair bargaining practices. The judge also ordered Castlewood to reimburse the 61 locked out service and hospitality workers — 45 of who returned to work October 16. The club, however, had failed to reimburse the workers and the workers are still seeking a new contract.

Castlewood workers also protested earlier this year.
  • Brooke Anderson/File photo
  • Castlewood workers also protested earlier this year.
Earlier this year, the Express detailed allegations against Castlewood’s attorney for attempting to alter notes taken during a bargaining session with representatives of the UNITE HERE Local 2850, who represent the employees. The allegation was also cited in the harshly worded judgment in August against the country club, which has until tomorrow at 5 p.m. to decide whether to appeal the orders.

Castlewood officials declined to comment Thursday on whether they would appeal. However, union officials say management have indicated to them they will do so.

About thirty union members gathered Thursday morning outside Castlewood’s offices to urge management to pay up. They yelled, “Pay your workers, not your lawyers,” while holding picket signs alongside a demonstrator dressed as The Grinch. Wei-Ling Huber of UNITE HERE said the union has had unproductive talks with management over plans to pay back the workers. “We’ve had ridiculous conversations about them not wanting to pay it,” she said, “but they’re going to have to.”

Huber said the union members’ resolve over the two-year lockout has been astonishing, noting that the return of 45 of 61 workers represents a far lower rate of attrition than normal turnover among Castlewood’s cooks, bartenders, and food servers.

Carlos Hernandez, a cook at Castlewood for seven years, said he was apprehensive over how employees would be treated upon their return to work. “As far as I know, we haven’t had any problems,” said Hernandez through a translator. “I was a little bit surprised. I was worried that people would treat us badly, but they haven’t.”

However, he said that management’s reaction to the workers was icy at first, but has begun to thaw recently. “For me, it was like a relationship between partners, when there’s a fight and then there’s reconciliation,” Hernandez said, “It just took some time for management to figure out how to work with us again.”

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