PLEASANTON, CA–Management at the elite Castlewood Country Club locked out 59 food-beverage and maintenance workers on February 25.
The Club is trying to drive workers into giving up access to medical care for their children by forbidding all 59 cooks, dishwashers, and maintenance workers from working for the last seven consecutive days. That’s a devastating move for these working families. The Club wants workers to pay $739 per month for family healthcare medical–three times the national average.
"I would no longer be able to afford to cover my family on my health care," said Marisol Gil, a banquet server who’s worked at Castlewood for five years. "I fear that because I only work when there are parties, I might not get enough hours to qualify for my own coverage." Most Castlewood workers can’t afford the increase, which comes out to more than 35 percent of a full-time maintenance worker’s gross wages.
Affordable health insurance is the most important factor in employees’ compensation, especially since the average wage is $12.50 an hour. Furthermore, the state of California is slashing funding for public benefits and is considering capping or eliminating the Healthy Families children’s insurance program. If Castlewood workers lose their benefits, they can’t count on a safety net, and their children may go without health care entirely.
Wei Ling Huber, President of Local 2850 states that "the Union has proposed an agreement that would cost not a penny more than the Club’s most recent proposal. But rather than being open to the Union’s suggestion of redirecting the same amount of money towards family health care instead of wages, the Company has chosen to lock the workers out in an effort to starve them into submitting to management’s own view."
Through their union, UniteHere Local 2850, workers have been negotiating with the company since September 2009 and have offered management a reasonable contract proposal that would, according to Local 2850’s calculations, reduce labor costs for the company by approximately 8% in the first year, including a one- year wage freeze, an extremely modest wage increase (just 10 cents an hour) for the following year and an increase in worker’s monthly insurance premiums for a cheaper plan with fewer benefits.
The Castlewood Country Club workers have been members of UNITE HERE Local 2850 for over 30 years, and until recently have always had a good, cooperative relationship with the Club. Last year, a new general manager and board president took a totally different approach to labor relations. "This lockout is a hardship. I am a widow and my husband stood up for this country in WWII. This company is trying to scare us. I want to go back, but not without justice." Says Peggy Duthie, a 25 year veteran banquet server.
Visit www.endthelockout.org for more information.