Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - March 11, 2011

Letters

Respect for employers?

Dear Editor,

Scott Haggerty, at the anniversary of the Castlewood Country Club lockout, expressed that he is disappointed and saddened with the Castlewood management. I, for one, am quite disappointed that our county supervisor, who I have respected and supported, would publically take such an extreme one-sided view, without regard for the "other side." I am tired to hear so many supporters of workers' rights blame the management of different companies (and even now public institutions) for treating workers like slaves (so says Haggerty) and profiting at their expense.

Are we really that ignorant to believe that company owners and executives care little for their own employees? Can we not acknowledge the burdens that many unionized workforces place on employers, to the detriment of greater success for the entire company? And what is disrupting daily business at Castlewood really going to achieve? Would you rather have no country club to return to? The us vs. them mentality propagated by such union activity is an anchor on economic vitality.

Kudos to those on both sides who are willing to stick their necks out to promote a team-centered perspective. Regardless of our jobs and positions, we are all in this together!

Jim Garber

Comments

Posted by Larry Ferderber, a resident of Rosepointe
on Mar 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I am a Castlewood member and I too am disappointed with Castlewood management. While it may surprise you, I think they have shown little regard for their employees, not just union employees but all employees, in their unnecessary draconian reduction in healthcare benefits – particularly in light of previous profitability, the opportunity to propose phased reductions instead of a 50% instantaneous cut and the Unions early offer of significant reductions in employer contributions. Remember, while they care about the Club, they are volunteer management with little or no experience in managing labor negotiations in a non-profit mutual benefit corporation. Time has shown that they either failed to seek sufficient expert advice or chose the wrong advisors. They have repeatedly rejected calls from outside stakeholders, including elected officials, to help in mediating the dispute. If this leads to "no Club to return to", as you characterize it, it will be the Board's fault, not the Unions. The Board started this and has been in control all along. I welcome your call for a team centered perspective and would welcome any effort by Club management to bring interested stakeholders together to end this tragic situation.


Posted by Charles, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2011 at 8:13 am

Until management shows a good faith effort to negotiate, members of CCC who still have a conscience show withdraw their membership and those doing business with CCC should refrain from doing so. CCC management has had over a year to move toward a just resolution. Given their 'economic' mentality, it seems only economic pressure from the community will get their attention.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2011 at 10:08 am

Larry, you say that Castlewood is a non-profit corporation. They have to make ends meet. Something we deal with in the real world but many unions don't seem to get. Expenses cannot exceed income. When income is down, or some expenses are up, something has to give. I believe the Castlewood management gave their best and final offer to the employees. It is actually in the employees court now to accept the offer, or to find employment in another place. It appears the management team is looking at costs for the next couple of years and had to do something to remain viable.

There are many of us who have been at companies and had to take pay cuts or a decrease in benefits because of finances. We have the choice of accepting the new compensation or finding employment in other areas.

In this instance the management could pay more if they increase dues to the members but management found that they can still get employees at the rate they can afford now. They did the right thing. The management team works for the due paying members and they try to get the best, reasonable deal for them. While I know that the insurance rates have gone up for the employees, the insurance rates have also gone up for the members. They have already been hit once for rising insurance. Personally my insurance rates go up at least 15% at year and I have to pay them all myself (100%). I think it is draconian of the insurance companies to keep raising rates so do I have the right to tell them they cannot do that?

This issue is between the members, the management team, and the employees. Those are the stakeholders. The politicians should stay out of it.




Posted by Larry Ferderber, a resident of Rosepointe
on Mar 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Anonymous – The union did agree to a pay cut – proposing no raise for the first year and 30% reduction in employer contributions to their healthcare. Had the Board agreed to that it is likely that the Club would not have had to raise dues this year. The increase in dues was due largely to the legal expenses of fighting the union and lost income due to members and outside organizations that chose to not do business with Castlewood due to the lockout. While future healthcare costs and inflation are legitimate concerns they are negotiable and could be dealt with if the Club got off its year-old "best and final" and actually negotiated. There is an economically viable solution that works for both members and employees.


Posted by union proud, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Larry, you maybe shouldn't attempt to confuse Anonymous with facts. Anonymous seems to suffer from some kind of cognitive disorder that leaves him detached and unable to understand the plight of people who are unable to pay 630+ dollars a month for CCC membership dues.

You see, his reasoning seems to be this: Let's see, I make enough money to afford a 1.8 million dollar house. So, if my health insurance rates go up, then low income workers should have to pay higher rates just like I do. What? My health care costs represent 3% of my income? And CCC workers' health care costs represent approx 40% of theirs? Fair is fair I guess.

I'd like to believe we've evolved as a citizenry such that cognitive deficits like Anonymous are left behind. Still, it never ceases to amaze.

Thanks for your efforts, Larry. If the community would begin placing some added pressure on the club, some progress might be made. Members of CCC, please consider withdrawing your membership until CCC comes back to the bargaining table.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 14, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Didn't the union agree to pay $200 - $300 per month in exchange for Healthcare with the remaining balance being the responsibility of the club? If so, isn't that an increase in total compensation (base pay, benefits, overtime, retirement etc.)versus what they had before? If Castlewood was such a terrible employer why didn't the locked out workers find better jobs at higher wages based on their work experience? Private sector non-union workers actually do this (voluntarily leave their employer for a better job elsewhere) every day.


Posted by psssst, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Way to go, Jason. I'm sure CCC's management are thrilled that you've attempted to keep this thread alive.


Posted by steve, a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Mar 15, 2011 at 8:29 am

Looks like the union trolls took the bait. No doubt they served up this topic so they could organize their replies to make it look like they have support for this year long travesty that's costing their members their ability to earn a living.
Time to move on. Even the union supported politicians can't force a private club to submit to the demands of the union instigators.


Posted by Ed, a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 15, 2011 at 8:44 am

Seems to me we have brand new very happy employees at CCC... What makes them different?...they dont have to pay Union Dues into a black hole that Union thugs spend however they want and pay themselves lavish salaries. And they dont have to pay non-employees to picket for over a year on a lost cause. Im sure all of those picketers are getting full benefits from the union.


Posted by Another Member, a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Jason, just to clarify, the prior contract included 100% of health care paid by the club. The union's proposal reduces the cost of union employee health care by around 30%, so it's definitely a concession. I don't think the union employees are saying that the club is a "terrible employer", I think they liked their jobs there, at least the ones I've talked to. They just want to be able to provide health care for their families if they are working full time.

Anonymous, you seem to be fairly level headed about this. I encourage you to look closely at the facts. The workers have a right to organize to protect their interests under CA labor law. I think a 30% reduction in health care costs to the club is a pretty sizeable concession. If they were not giving so much, or asking for more, I might not be so ready to settle. But since they are, it's time for the club management to reach a settlement before the union uses it's influence to bury Castlewood.


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