Occupiers march to Castlewood Country Club

Club spokesman responds to union claims, urges member vote

Between 300 and 350 people turned out for last weekend's Occupy Pleasanton event to protest the lockout of workers from Castlewood Country Club, now in its second year.

Pleasanton Police and Alameda County Sheriff's deputies escorted the marchers, but there were no arrests and the event concluded without incident.

While no one camped out, a group calling itself "Save the 1 percent" pitched tents near the golf course during the protest as a satirical gesture. That group, which carried signs like "The rich make the world work (for us)," and "Golfing is a human right," dressed in suits, ties and evening gowns and was featured this week in Mother Jones, a liberal magazine based in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, UniteHERE Local 2850, the union representing the 57 full- and part-time workers locked out of the country club, is awaiting a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board.

"The last day of the hearing is Thursday, March 1," said union organizer Sarah Norr. "From there, it will be another two or three months before a decision is issued."

Norr said negotiations between club management and the union have been called off for now.

"We have not been negotiating for the past couple months because everyone's been focused on the NLRB case. We will probably resume soon, but don't have a definite date yet," she said.

The dispute mainly revolves around health care benefits; Castlewood spokesman Vintage Foster, president of AMF Media Group, said the club wants the union to allow a vote on its final offer.

"About 40 of their members signed a petition that said, 'We want to vote on this offer,' and they have not been able to," Foster said. "The position was presented to us at the bargaining table."

While approving a vote doesn't mean it will pass, Foster questioned why the union is blocking it. He also said the union is looking for better health care coverage than most country clubs provide.

"What Castlewood Country Club has done is said, 'We're going to protect the employee' -- 100 percent of coverage of the single employee is covered in our proposal," Foster said. He said on average, East Bay country clubs pay 93 percent of health benefits for single employees and most pay an average of 48 percent of health care coverage for families; the club's proposal would pay 47 percent.

Foster noted that health care benefits have risen 113% in the last 10 years, but the club "has not passed a single dime of that cost onto its employees."

He said he's confident the club will win at the NLRB hearing, as it did in the last hearing.

Norr could not be reached for comment.

Foster said the cost of membership has dropped from about $85,000 to around $11,000, but said that was because of the economy, as is the case with many local clubs, and not the lockout. Castlewood has 800 regular members.

He admitted, however, that the club has lost business as a result of the strike.

"The union has gone to meet with organizations that want to have events at Castlewood and said, 'We will not support you or your business if you hold your event there,'" Foster said.


Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Diablo
on Mar 1, 2012 at 8:25 am

Commie unions! Saul Alinsky tactics! Hold your ground Castlewood!!

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