Occupy and Castlewood Workers to join up for “perhaps the biggest and most vibrant march Pleasanton has ever seen”


Organizers hope for a big turnout Feb. 25 for the latest protest in a two-year saga to demand a better contract.

Food service workers at Castlewood Country Club were put on lockout on Feb. 25, 2010 when they refused the terms of a contract with the club. The contract stipulated that workers pay $849 per month for health care, a change from the free health care the contract had previously provided.

Lockouts, when employers refuse to let employees come back to work until they agree to contract terms, are a rare but powerful tool used against unions.

“A lockout is the opposite of a strike,” said Sarah Norr, organizer with UNITE HERE local 2850, which represents the Castlewood workers.

Since the lockout began, the club has hired non-union replacement workers and most of the union workers have taken other jobs. But, in order to end the lockout legally, the company must resolve the contract issues.

According to Norr, "It's illegal to permanently replace locked out workers."

Workers brought the case to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which filed a complaint against Castlewood August 30, 2010. The complaint states that the club “has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the [National Labor Relations] Act” and “has been failing and refusing to bargaining [sic] collectively and in good faith with the exclusive bargaining representative of its employees.”

An ongoing NLRB hearing on the case is expected to conclude on March 1.

Meanwhile, workers have been picketing daily since the lockout began two years ago. This has sometimes resulted in dramatic clashes with the club members.

One of the workers' protests last June. Golfers' reponses, complete with property desctruction, begin around 1:35

"Members of the club harass them on a daily basis. Hitting golf balls at them, throwing racial slurs at them. Some of them are really supportive but some are not so nice,” said Norr.

But workers persevere, and tomorrow they hope for a larch march on the club, joined by OccupySF and Occupy Oakland.

Said Norr, “It’s going to be a big, vibrant march, perhaps biggest and most vibrant march Pleasanton has ever seen. There will be a babies' and children’s brigade.”

For Occupy organizers, joining up with the protest makes perfect sense.

“Many of Castlewood’s member-owners spent $25,000 for their memberships,” said Ann Worth, a longtime union member and participant in Occupy Oakland, in a press release. “They can justify spending that kind of money to play golf, but they still think it's okay to squeeze more out of the people who work for them for $10 or $12 an hour. They expect workers to subsidize their expensive game by giving up affordable health care for their kids. It’s a perfect example of what's been going wrong in this country: the rich are getting richer by denying everyone else their share in the American Dream.”


I hope the Guardian reporter covering this event get some quotes from the babies and children. I would like to know how they came to the conclusion to attend this important event and what their feelings are.

And my hat off to the parents of these kids, willing to risk their well being. It's about time we sacrifice our kids for the good of the cause.

So noble of the occupy folks to risk their kids.

Posted by Cityside415 on Feb. 24, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

Actually it is the rich who are so completely hoarding wealth away from everyone else in this country, who are sacrificing the children of millions of families to extreme poverty, illness, and often death.

Bringing a child to a protest against such evil and injustice is empowering that child early on to learn how to stand up against those injustices.

Posted by anonymous on Feb. 25, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

Yeah. T-Baggers never bring kids to rallys. You're not in 415 and everyone knows it.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

I've never been to a t-party event, but I've been to many occupy events, at least until the complete crazys took over.

I've never been in support of dragging kids to these events. they don't like it and they should be able to enjoy their childhood. It ends to fast. Bringing kids to these kinds of events is really just for the ego of the parents.

But any parent that would bring their kids to this event, that has the possiblity of trouble is a bad parent, and will only discredit to progressive movement.

Posted by Cityside415 on Feb. 25, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

It seemed like a gradual thing to me rather than a sudden one-time event.


Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

For about 15 minutes last Fall, it actually looked like it might achieve something.

But those who predicted that it would fizzle out as soon as the weather turned cold and wet, were sadly proven prescient.

Pleasanton? Give me a break.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

So you gave up after 15 minutes. Instead of criticizing "them" why aren't you out there? Occupy is a democratic movement, which is why even government observers can participate. There's no "them". It is us and it goes way beyond the people who show up, which is why so many are watching this. If you and others are eager for it to fail, it will, but you and next generations lose.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2012 @ 7:46 pm

of it's own failure when it became an endless mental masturbation for every witless anarchist in town, and all things to all people.

With focus, it might have achieved at least some moderate ambitions. While now it is merely a soooo-2011 'nother moment.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

As a golfer and Castlewood member, I'd be very surprised if any member has or would intentionally hit a golf ball at any of the Union protesters who have picketed the club. Such an action would not only be extremely dangerous, but should have resulted in a criminal claim of assault. I would certainly be interested in seeing proof of this potentially libelous claim, and I hope our club management will look into this. The Union picketers do set up behind one of our greens, so I suppose it's possible that an errant shot could carry over the green and end up amongst them. However, for the Union representative to imply that members do this frequently and intentionally is, at best, disingenuous. It's typical of the Union's pattern of using misrepresentations to affect public opinion.

As for the claim that Castlewood members are wealthy 1%ers, the sentiment at the club today was mostly just, "we wish we were". The irony here is that Castlewood has always been considered a "working man's club". That probably accounts for the fact that we have a Union in the first place - most private clubs don't. I will concede that most of us would be within the top 5%, because we've worked hard and been successful in our careers. To find a lot of 1%ers, you really need to go across the bay to Sharon Heights in Menlo Park, where rather than $25,000, the initiation fee is in the $250,000 range. As a matter of fact, most membership sales at the club these days take place just above the $10,000 hard lower limit. Many members have simply turned in their memberships and walked away, often as a response to their own financial hardships. Many of our members are retired and live on fixed incomes. We do care what we have to pay to play at the club.

What seems to be missed in the discussion of whether the club owes its workers' families full heath care coverage is: what do our competitors in other clubs and restaurants do? What benefits does Pleasanton's Callippe Golf Course provide to their employees, for example? If our contract offer is competitive with what other establishments are offering, where's the beef? In my opinion, what is really happening here is that, over the years, our board of directors has approved a series of contracts that were more generous than our competition. In particular, we provided health care coverage for part time workers, which the club determined was becoming too expensive to continue. It's hard to justify paying a worker who makes $12/hour for 1000 hours $12,000/year in salary, and then an additional $8,000/year to provide family health care coverage. So, you have a situation where the Union loves their previous contract with us, and would have wanted to see it continued. That's why they didn't want to have meetings when the club locked them out, won't settle, and don't want to have an impasse declared. The thing that some people don't seem to realize or acknowledge is that the club is a business, not a charity. The simple solution of us "rich burghers" paying more then our competition does just because our part time employees need health insurance is not in our best interest.

Just to be clear: the opinions expressed here are my own, and do not represent those of the membership or management of Castlewood Country Club.

A Castlewood Member

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

I am also a member of Castlewood, but I have a different take on the situation. I do agree that it's hard to believe any member or guest would deliberately hit a golf ball at someone, but this impression may have come from a photo that was published showing a player lining up a shot off the street into a group of picketers. I'm sure he was doing it in jest, but it could be the source of the union's concern. I've also heard that some eggs were thrown from the club house at the picketers, during an event, but I think management dealt with this and it hasn't recurred.

Geting to the labor dispute, this all comes down to Castlewood denying these workers their right to organize. The union has made rather large concessions in their contract, about a 30% reduction in health care costs to the club, while the club wants a 50% reduction. The union has also offered to increase the number of hours to be declared full time from 20 hours, which was probably too generous, to 28 hours (the club wants it to be 32.)

The club has changed their offer, including some items already under tentative agreement, to include open shop and to give them the ability to lay off any worker they want, regardless of seniority. Neither of these provisions could be accepted by the union, since it would allow management to wipe them out through selective layoffs. A hearing is currently underway, which will determine whether or not the club has been bargaining in good faith, as they are required to by law. This could cost the club upwards of $1M.

Regardless of the outcome, the decision not to settle has cost much more than it would have cost to settle, which indicates to me that our managment and BOD have one goal, get rid of the union, with the support of the mostly right wing political sentiment of the membership. Given the egos involved, this could continue for several more years.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2012 @ 10:11 am

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