Concord hotel workers keep protesting health care costs, imposed 21 months ago

For the past 21 months, the workers at the Concord Holiday Inn have been calling for a boycott of their own hotel. At the end of the month, it will become a Red Lion Hotel — but their calls for a boycott haven’t changed.

Workers remain upset about management’s July 2009 imposition of a contract that raised family health care costs by about $700 per month. When housekeepers earn around $10 per hour, that $700 is an impossibly steep cost, union officials say.

In 2009, a lawyer for the company’s owners said the hotel had to change the workers’ contract. It could not afford to keep spending $1,300 per month on health care for some workers — more than $15 per hour just in health care expenses for some employees.

Workers regularly rally in front of the hotel to make their case. Earlier this month, they brought along an 8-foot-tall Grinch puppet as a prop.

None of the union workers at the hotel can afford to have family medical coverage any more, said Lian Alan, a spokesman for UNITE HERE Local 2850, the workers’ union.

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Castlewood Country Club: Open Your Doors!

This Christmas, Locked-Out Workers seek Refuge at the “Inn”

Where: Castlewood Country Club, start at Valley Golf Course (Foothill and Castlewood Dr)
When: Saturday December 18, 2010 at 4:30pm
What: Workers are staging a posada, candlelight procession through Castlewood Country Club.  A posada is a traditional Mexican procession that reenacts the historical scene of Mary and Joseph seeking and being refused shelter at the Inn.

Just as Mary and Joseph were turned away from the Inn, Castlewood Country Club has closed its doors to its workers.  Those workers, like Maria Munoz a 5 year janitor at the Club will be asking Castlewood to open their doors in the spirit of compassion.  “It’s Christmas, “Says Maria Munoz.  “This is supposed to be a time for love, light and compassion.  I hope we aren’t turned away but I expect that we will. When the Messiah comes, he brings hope with him”

“In a season that is supposed to be one of giving, a season of getting ready for the coming of Jesus, frankly, I think the best gift that Castlewood can give to the workers and to the community is to end the lock out and give the workers a fair contract.” Says Brian Ballantine of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice.

The Union, Unite Here Local 2850 estimates that its contract proposal would actually save the Club money while providing affordable family benefits to the Workers.  Contrasting the Club’s proposal to deprive the workers ‘ children with affordable healthcare might save the Club a maximum of $5,000/month.   “I’m shocked that this dispute has gone on from February till Christmas, with no end in sight over just $5,000.

Background: The lockout began on February 25, 2010 when management turned employees away when they reported to work. Negotiations stalled when the Club insisted that their employees contribute $739 per month toward their family health care costs, nearly 40% of the average take-home pay of the locked out employees

Workers offered to increase their share of health costs from 0 to $225 per month, restrict health benefits to full-time employees, and accept a wage freeze in the first year and very low raises in later years.
These concessions would have more than offset the costs of retaining family medical benefits.

EDD ruled that the lockout is an offensive action on the part of the Club and the locked out workers have been receiving unemployment benefits.  Workers have also received donations to help them keep a roof over their heads.

Although workers and union representatives have met regularly with Club negotiators, the Club’s proposals have only moved backwards over the course of the lockout. On August 30th, the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel issued a complaint against Castlewood Country Club for “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees” and “failing and refusing to bargaining [sic] collectively and in good faith.”

Candlelight Procession at Castlewood

Saturday, December 18 · 4:30pm – 7:30pm
Castlewood Dr between Foothill Rd and Pleasanton-Sunol Rd
Pleasanton, CA

Join locked-out Castlewood Country Club workers for a candlelight procession to call on the Club to let the workers return to work in time for the holiday season. Come share holiday treats, songs and a posada (Mexican Christmas pageant). Bring a toy to share with workers’ children!

Please also consider making a donation to the workers’ hardship fund. Donations make great holiday gifts! Checks can be made out to the Alameda Labor Council, with “Castlewood” in the memo line, and sent to 100 Hegenberger Road, Suite 150, Oakland, CA 94621.

This Christmas will mark Castlewood workers’ tenth month on lockout. “First my managers tried to make health care so expensive that I’d have to drop my kids from the plan. Then they locked us out and told us they’d only let us come back if we voted out our union. Then they told us that they liked their temporary workers better than us, and wanted to be able to lay us off and keep them working in the future,” said cook Angel Melendez. “Through it all, we have stayed strong and found that we have more friends that we ever imagined. That gives us strength to keep on fighting till we win a contract that’s fair for our families.” (Photo by David Bacon.)

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Locked-Out Castlewood Workers Protest

Workers from the Castlewood Country Club, in a wealthy suburb of the San Francisco Bay Area, were locked out of their jobs during union contract negotiations in February 2010. They belong to UNITE HERE Local 2850. Union members from around the Bay Area rallied with political leaders to support them just before Thanksgiving. View more photos on facebook.

NLRB Cites Castlewood for Restraining and Coercing Workers

The National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against Castlewood Country Club for engaging in unfair labor practices, “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the (National Labor Relations) Act,” and “failing and refusing to bargain collectively and in good faith.” Workers are marking the 200th day of lockout with a march and rally at the Club on Saturday.

The lockout began 200 days ago over what seemed like a health care dispute, with the club demanding that workers with families pay $739 per month toward their family health care costs, nearly 40% of the workers’ average take-home pay. But during recent negotiations, it has become clear that the dispute is about much more that health care. “The Club recently proposed a contract that basically guts seniority and job security. We, the workers, have refused contracts that hurt our families. This proposal is no different,” says Francisca Carranza, a maintenance worker at the Club.

Woodfin Workers Win backwages!

The four-year fight over Emeryville’s hotel living wage is over! EBASE and the workers announce settlement with the Woodfin! From EBASE:

Today, EBASE and the workers, Unite Here 2850, and the Woodfin Suites Hotel announced a settlement agreement which puts an end to this conflict and protects Measure C moving forward. The workers are very happy with the agreement and are currently submitting claim forms. Here’s the text of our joint press statement:

Woodfin Suite Hotels and EBASE today announced that a settlement had been reached in the litigation between Woodfin, the City of Emeryville, and the workers assisted by EBASE over claims related to Emerville’s Measure C, an ordinance setting labor standards for Emervyville hotels. Workers during the time period in question will be receiving claim forms in the mail in order to participate in the settlement. EBASE and UNITE HERE 2850 has called off its boycott activities. The parties praised mediator William Cahill and each other for bringing the long-running dispute to an end.

And here’s what worker leader Luz had to say:

“We are very proud to have fought for living wages and immigrant rights, and we are very happy with this agreement. To all who have supported us during these four years: thank you so much!”

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