California club goes from union to nonunion crew

Workers stage a demonstration to protest the country club’s recent decision to lay off 17 union employees.

September 24, 2012

Seventeen union workers employed at the Calabasas Country Club and Golf Course have been replaced by a new, nonunion crew from ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance.

Critics of the move worry that the change is the beginning of a new trend in the golfing industry to move away from organized labor in favor of independent subcontractors who work for less.

The country club’s management said it replaced the union employees because their work was unsatisfactory.

On Sept. 11, a dozen displaced workers wearing Laborer’s Local 300 T-shirts stood at the corner of Parkway Calabasas and Park Entrada— and at the entrance of the Calabasas Country Club— handing fliers to passing drivers. They have been picketing for about a month.

“We just want to get our job back,” said Octavio Suarez, who worked at the golf course for 16 years. Suarez said he and his coworkers were doing a good job maintaining the 130-acre Calabasas club and that the sudden terminations came without adequate notifi cation.

“They told us that they got another company but didn’t say why. They didn’t give us a chance to do anything. It will be very hard to find another job,” said the father of three.

Francisco Arrizon, a representative for Laborers International Union of North America Local 300, said the displaced workers had been at Calabasas Country Club for many years.

They were doing an “excellent job,” but the country club suddenly decided a subcontractor could do superior work, Arrizon said.

“(The workers) came in on Monday morning and were told that Thursday would be their last day,” he said.

Local 300 represents maintenance crews and groundskeepers with Los Angeles Unified School District, L.A. Housing Authority, Hollywood and Santa Anita parks and about 20 golf courses in Southern California.