A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) official has ruled that the management lockout of 61 union-member food and hospitality workers at Castlewood Country Club is illegal.
The ruling by administrative law judge Clifford Anderson orders Castlewood to end the lockout and restore the workers to their jobs, if the workers want them back.
Castlewood also must restore the pay and benefits, including interest, of all employees who were locked out. Anderson issued the order on Aug. 17.
Anderson ruled that although negotiations that began in 2009 for a new contract were proceeding fairly, that changed in August 2010, when the club engaged in unfair labor practices.
Castlewood must also go back to negotiating a new contract, replacing the one that expired in 2009, and bargain in good faith, says the order.
Castlewood has 28 days from the date on which Anderson issued the order to respond to its details. If the club does not respond, Anderson’s order will stand. Then there would be a 14-day period for Castlewood to implement the order.
If Castlewood appeals the decision to the NLRB in Washington, the matter could take another year or more, before it is resolved, said Unite Here union spokesperson Sarah Norr.
If Castlewood asks for an NLRB review, it does not have to comply while the review is pending. Workers could be out of work for another year or more, said Norr.
However, in that instance, the regional director of the NLRB could seek an injunction that would require Castlewood to bring the workers back under the old contract while the appeal process goes forward, said Norr.
Another possibility is that the union and Castlewood reach a settlement out of court that covers the NLRB issues and the contract in the next few weeks. Then the workers would go back to work in the next few weeks under a new, settled contract, said Norr. “We’re hopeful about this option, but want to see what the club is ready to offer,” she said.
NO DECISION YET FROM CASTLEWOOD
Castlewood manager Jerry Olson said that no decision has been made concerning an appeal. “We just got word over the weekend (about the decision), and we just received the paperwork. We are in the early stages of meeting to decide what is the best step.”
Olson will meet with the club’s board of directors and Castlewood’s attorney to make a decision.
Asked for comment on points cited in the decision that were offered as evidence that Castlewood had been bargaining “in bad faith” since August 2010, Olson said, “It is a complex 87-page opinion that I have. I don’t want to take any phrase out of context.”
CASTLEWOOD STANDS TO LOSE MONEY
If the judge’s decision stands, Castlewood could be responsible for paying a large sum of money to the workers who were locked out.
Anderson’s ruling cited no figure. Any amount stated now would just be an estimate. Norr said, “An outside figure would be $3.4 million.” However, it is unlikely to end up at that level, she added.
Norr derived the $3.4 million from the $1.7 million in salary and benefits that the 61 workers were earning during 2009, and multiplying it by 2, for the two years that Anderson said was the “bad faith bargaining” period.
However, both Norr and Olson said that according to NLRB rules, Castlewood would be able to deduct from the back pay the amount of money that the locked-out workers made at jobs that they obtained after the lockout.
The Castlewood obligation would be pro-rated, based on when the employee was hired for the non-Castlewood job. Further, if the replacement job paid less than the Castlewood job, Castlewood must pay the difference. However, if the locked-out employee’s new job paid the same or more, Castlewood would have no financial obligation.
Norr added that if workers received unemployment money from the state, Castlewood would be obligated to pay the employee the whole wage they would have earned at Castlewood. Then the employee would be obligated to pay the state back the unemployment money, which would be less than the money received from Castlewood.
Castlewood must also offer jobs back to any union members who were displaced when kitchen cleaning work was subcontracted out. Castlewood must also bargain with the union about a future contract for the kitchen cleaning work.
Anderson’s conclusions say that subcontracting out the kitchen cleaning without notifying the union or offering it a chance to bargain on it was “a seriously regressive proposal offered essentially without warning or explanation.” This was one of the points that led Anderson to conclude that Castlewood was negotiating in bad faith.
Also figuring into Anderson’s “bad faith” conclusion was the NLRB violation that the club committed when it prohibited “unauthorized presence of employees at member functions and member areas.” Management also prohibited employees from engaging in in the “unauthorized distribution of literature . . . on club premises during work time and in work or members areas,” says Anderson’s conclusions.
In carrying out the judge’s order, Castlewood must post signs in prominent places for employees that assert that management won’t interfere with employee access and distribution of literature.