When their contract expired in February of 2010, Castlewood Country Club – a playground for the wealthy in Pleasanton, CA, one of the wealthiest burbs in the Bay Area – decided to lock out their food service workers rather than negotiate in good faith. Today, after three years of picketing, organizing by Unite Here Local 2850, court hearings, favorable court decisions and finally negotiations, the Castlewood workers have clinched an amazing victory.
For three years, we’ve been looking forward to the day we could make this announcement:
Castlewood workers have won their struggle for justice!
On February 13, the workers approved a great new contract that provides job security, affordable family health care, raises, and a signing bonus.
Under the new contract, workers will pay $225 per month for family health care, the same amount the union proposed before the lockout began. The workers’ payment will go down to $150 in the last year of the contract. The deal also includes raises, strong seniority rights and protections against subcontracting – which Castlewood proposed eliminating during the lockout…
Workers and their supporters fought bravely throughout a lockout that lasted longer than the siege of Leningrad.
I also learned that workers were able to negotiate the payment by Castlewood of certain medical debts they incurred during their the three years they and their families were without health insurance!
Quite the victory indeed.
Unbelievably the Country Club had originally demanded a new contract in which workers would pay up to $739/month for health care, over 40% of an average worker’s wages. Then they decided to squeeze even further!
Six months into the lockout, Castlewood made new proposals that were substantially worse than its original offer. The proposals would have stripped away seniority and job security protections, allowed unlimited subcontracting of workers’ jobs, made it optional for workers to pay union dues, and increased the cost of family health care even further.
When juxtapoxed against the background of the one percent arriving for their tee times, and luxurating in fine meals served to them by replacement workers brought in to break the locked out workers’ spirits, these proposals were, shall we say, revolting.
This imagery was parodied by the Occupy Oakland Labor Solidarity Committee and others from Occupy Oakland in support of the Castlewood workers back in February 2012, when a march of the workers and supporters was met by the “one percent,” sporting signs such as
Picketing and rallying, supported by local labor unions, Occupy Oakland and concerned neighbors continued through the Spring and Summer of 2012. Still, it took a judge to make them finally realize the error of their ways – or at least the monetary implications of continuing to embrace what was ruled an illegal lockout.
On August 17, 2012, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Clifford Anderson found that Castlewood had maintained an unlawful lockout for the previous two years. Anderson found that Castlewood had bargained in bad faith and that its bargaining proposals were motivated by animus toward the union.
On October 16, 2012, Castlewood ended the lockout. 46 of the 61 locked out workers returned to their jobs. Castlewood and the union continued to bargain for a new contract.
On February 13, 2013, the workers voted to ratify a new three-year contract.
Here’s to victory! And to the amazing Castlewood workers who had the fortitude to keep it real for more than three years.
May it spread.
by JP Massar
Chronicling the Castlewood fight: