Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Community members speak on HVLA lockout; association responds to union

HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – The Hidden Valley Lake Association Board meeting on Nov. 20 drew residents from around the community concerned about the recent lockout of association workers affiliated with a union. {sidebar id=108}


There was a mixed point of view as far as what should be done concerning the lockout of union workers, which began last weekend, as Lake County News has reported.


HVLA workers at the meeting who are affiliated with Laborers International Union of North America Local 139 stated that the lockout occurred after a scheduled meeting between the two sides was canceled due to the union representative being sick.


Lawyers for the union workers contacted HVLA to inform them of the representative's illness but the association reportedly sent someone to the negotiation meeting any way. The lockout occurred shortly afterward, according to union workers.


In a press release given to community members late last week, HVLA General Manager Jim Johnson said the association locked out the union personnel “because of financial concerns regarding the ongoing union contract negotiations.”


Johnson stated in the press release, “These concerns are based on the $644,644 loss the golf course experienced in 2007 and the loss of $424,325 through September of this year.”


The statement said the lockout will end and employees will be allowed to report back to work as soon as HVLA management and the union can reach an agreement regarding salaries, cost of living increases and benefit payment allocation.


On Thursday evening, the HVLA board heard from many people on the subject, some siding with Hidden Valley Lake, but most came to speak on behalf of the union workers.


Hal Muskat, who has lived in Hidden Valley Lake for 12 years, described what is happening as “horrible.”


Muskat said that the work done by the union personnel is what justifies homeowners in Hidden Valley Lake paying their association dues.


He suggested that residents withhold their association dues from HVLA and instead put their money into an escrow account. This way, Muskat said, people are still paying, but the association can't get its hands on the money until the union workers are put back to work.


Another resident suggested that the golf course be boycotted until union workers were able to do their jobs again.


The board also heard from an emotional Lora Darling, wife of one of the golf course maintenance workers who is currently part of the lockout.


The Darling family will not be able to have Thanksgiving this year and with Christmas just around the corner they fear that the holiday will be ruined for their family as well, she said.


Darling pleaded with the board to put unionized employees back to work as this lockout is really hurting her friends, neighbors and family.


HVLA has offered union workers their vacation pay now to try to help with the financial hardship of the lockout, but many workers didn't agree with this offer, as they said they work hard for their vacations and didn't to use them that way.


After the open session time was ended by HVLA Board President Don Dornbush, most of the union workers left all at once. “You guys are a disgrace!” were their parting words to board officials.


On Nov. 19, HVLA released a list of comments relating to union negotiations.


Among other things, the association stated that, as of Oct. 31, union personnel were paid about $77,600 a year more than the union contract requires. Officials also maintain that they have not requested or suggested that the hourly rate of any union member be reduced.


The association stated that HVLA management suggested to the union that they be allowed to consider full-time employment as 32 hours per week – which is the same as all other HVLA employees – as opposed to the current guaranteed 40 hours per week. The reason, according to HVLA, was that reducing the hours was an alternative to laying off personnel. They said the union did not agree with the recommendation.


HVLA management said it has proposed a 4-percent pay increase effective Nov. 1 and a 3-percent increase effective for each of the other two years of the contract, which is consistent with what the rest of the staff will receive.


The union has reportedly requested that HVLA pay the entire benefit packet of over $6 per hour worked for each employee, which the association says will amount to about $163,000 for union employees. This is in addition to their hourly rate of pay, and could equate to $12,480 per employee per year.


Responding to comments Local 139 business manager Dave George made to Lake County News last week, HVLA said that both sides – not just the association – have introduced lawyers into the negotiations process this year.


HVLA officials also stated that the association has not refused to advise the union as to the salary of each union employee, as George had stated. The association said it provided more than 2,000 pages of documents that Local 139 had requested; when the union again requested salary information, it was provided on Nov. 3.


The lowest salary being paid for any union person is $11.60 per hour, according to HVLA, which it said exceeds the required union contract rate of $9.56 per hour.


“In fact, all union personnel are paid more than the required union contract rate,” the association stated. “The average pay for all union personnel is 20 percent above the required union contract hourly rate. The rate of pay for union personnel currently ranges from $11.60 to $21.20 per hour.”


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