San Jose Mercury News: Two dozen arrested in labor demonstration at Pleasanton’s Castlewood Country Club

mona gets arrestedJune 23, 2011

PLEASANTON — Demonstrators blocked the street near Castlewood Country Club on Thursday morning, leading to the arrest of about two dozen people demanding an end to a lockout of the club’s union service workers.

Thursday’s actions were the first acts of civil disobedience in the 16-month lockout, coming at the start of the club’s four-day Men’s Invitational golf tournament, one of the Castlewood’s biggest annual member events.

Since the lockout began, demonstrations have been held almost daily. Leaders of Unite Here Hospitality Workers Union Local 2850, which covers about 60 of the club’s cooks, servers, dishwashers and other hospitality workers, decided to ramp up the pressure on club officials with Thursday’s protest.

“If we don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace,” was one of the chants coming Thursday from a crowd of more than 150 demonstrators, who carried signs and marched.

About 20 locked-out workers were in the crowd, along with family, friends, religious groups and members of other unions, union leaders said. Read the full article.

Castlewood Workers to March on Anniversary of Lockout

Workers, allies, political leaders celebrate year of courageous struggle for justice at elite Pleasanton country club on February 26, 2011, 11:15 am.

Since February 25th, 2010, Castlewood has maintained a lockout of its 61 food service and janitorial workers, pressuring them to give up job security protections and pay about 40% of their wages for family health insurance. Instead of giving in, the workers have waged an extraordinary yearlong struggle to return to work and protect their families’ health care, garnering broad support from Pleasanton and East Bay political leaders, congregations, unions, and community organizations.

“I’ve worked hard to serve Club members for 10 years,” said Castlewood cook Angel Melendez. “I never imagined they would throw me out in the street for a year, just because I want to be able to take my son to the doctor when he gets sick. But I also never imagined how strong and united my co-workers and I would become through this struggle, or how much the whole community would stand behind us. This is a day of celebration because we have found the courage to fight for as long as it takes to protect our families.”

“It’s a lot like what is happening in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin,” said Wei-Ling Huber, president of UNITE HERE Local 2850, which represents the locked-out workers. “Like Governor Walker, Castlewood is using the budget as an excuse, but it’s never been about the money. They’ve spent many times more than the difference between our proposals on anti-union consultants, security guards and negotiators. We offered a common-sense compromise that would save them 30% of their health care costs, and they rejected it. They’ve made proposals that weaken the union and take away the workers’ job security. What they’re really fighting is very idea of the workers having the right to bargain collectively. Workers in Wisconsin are resisting, and inspiring others to stand with them – just like the Castlewood workers have.”

Contact Sarah Norr, 510-502-5344 for more information

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.