NLRB Rules in Favor of Locked-Out Castlewood Country Club Employees
August 27, 2012 10:48 am
NLRB Administrative Law Judge Clifford Anderson ruled in favor of 61 locked-out Castlewood Country Club employees last week, stating that the Pleasanton, CA club’s management did not bargain in good faith and maintained an “animus” against the UNITE-HERE represented employees.
The lockout began just over two years ago, in August of 2010, when the company demanded massive hikes in healthcare contributions from employees that would raise healthcare costs to as much as $850 a month — or about 50% of the locked out workers incomes. With Judge Anderson’s ruling, Castelwood could be on the hook for $3.4 million dollars in back wages, minus any wages locked-out workers have earned in other positions.
For their part, many of the locked out workers seem ready to return to their jobs. Michael York, a locked out employee who has remained unemployed for the past two years, spoke of his desire to get back to work to the Silicon Valley Mercury News:
“It’s just myself, and I’ve been doing OK,” he said.
But would he go back to work at Castlewood after all the disputes? ”Sure,” he said. “It would be business as usual after a couple of weeks, I think.”
With a loyal workforce, why has the country club taken on thousands in legal fees — and now potentiall millions in back wages — to make their point? Word around the clubhouse is that Jim Clouser, the President of the Board of Directors, who was brought in after the negotiation of the last worker contract, simply doesn’t like unions. Speaking with In These Times, Castlewood member Larry Ferderberger says:
“It was clear from the beginning that he was intent on taking on the union simply because was ideologically opposed to unions.”
Anderson’s ruling is in lockstep with the perceived sentiment, stating that the company, “unlawfully endeavor[ed] to frustrate the bargaining process” out of “animus toward the Union and animus to the locked out employees who supported the Union in bargaining.”
The company has 28 days to pay the back wages, appeal the decision (which could leave workers out of their jobs for another year), or hash out an out-of-court settlement with the 61 workers. In a later interview, Ferderberger, who says that he was threatened with expulsion from the club for bringing up the labor dispute, says members want the lockout to end. As equity shareholders who will be forced to pay the back wages should the board continue its anti-union crusade, members have a financial interest in settling.
“For two years we have never had a meeting of the members with the board to discuss the options regarding this lockout and see what to do. The members are clamoring for that now.”
Clouser did not comment publicly on the NLRB decision or his motivation in continuing the lockout. Perhaps he’d say something like, “the world needs ditch diggers, too.”
Image from here