The employees who are making Detroit Golf Club a playable PGA Tour-caliber golf course this week are calling for the end of negotiations and a new contract. If it doesn’t happen by the time the Rocket Mortgage Classic tees off on Thursday, then the union says it’s willing to strike.
“Come (Thursday) when this tournament starts,” said Kevin Moore, president of local union, Teamsters Local 299, and executive board member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, “we’re going to do what we have to do. Demonstrations, strikes, whatever is at our disposal.”
A seven-member group of mechanics and groundskeepers represented by Teamsters Local 299 saw their contract expire in 2018. The club had been asking for a contract that included a “3% pay raise, health care relief and job security language,” according to a news release on Monday..
Detroit Golf Club president Andrew Glassberg said in a statement Monday the club offered a contract with benefits and salaries 4% higher per year than the current contract and a 17% increase over the duration.
Moore says Glassberg’s claims aren’t true, and that after Glassberg went through a federal mediator, the workers were offered less than the 3% raise the union had asked for. The union filed its unfair labor practice charge against the golf club in May, citing a “failure to negotiate in good faith,” according to Monday’s release. Glassberg walked out of negotiations with the union on June 14.
“We believe our offer is more than fair,” Glassberg said in a statement on Monday. “We are ready to reach a resolution with the union, as we have since the contract expired roughly one year ago. Unfortunately, the union cancelled bargaining sessions, delayed the negotiating process, and chose this historic event to make its statement.”
Moore claims the club offered a $500 one-time signing bonus, but Teamsters countered with a 45 cent (3%) hourly pay increase which was denied.
He also says the the golf club forced workers to take a 15-to-20% wage reduction in 2015, then increased the out-of-pocket healthcare expense nearly $600 a month for family medical. Moore said management switched from the Michigan Teamsters health plan into a Detroit Golf Club-sponsored health plan.
“It was a garbage plan,” Moore said on Monday, “and they shoved the workers’ expenses down their throat.”
Detroit Golf Club workers have over 170 years of combined professional coursework, according to a release from Teamsters Local 299 sent on Thursday. On the course Monday, groundskeeper George D. Breault said he is a union member but was advised not to talk about negotiations.
“We’re happy about the revitalization of Detroit,” Moore said, “but the way they want to represent these members is absolutely horrendous.”
Detroit Golf Club is hosting the Rocket Mortgage Classic this week, the first PGA Tour event in Detroit. It’s the first time the tour has been in Michigan since the Buick Open’s final year in Grand Blanc in 2009.
Moore said nobody from Rocket Mortgage, the tournament title sponsor, or the PGA Tour has reached out to him, but he’s also unsure if the issue is even on their radar. Moore said in addition to the seven full-time workers, there are 40 temporary workers.
“The eyes of the world are upon us and this golf course, like the City of Detroit, has never shined brighter,” Glassberg said. “Unfortunately, the Teamsters have chosen this magnificent event that celebrates Detroit and supports local non-profit organizations to score political points for their bosses in Washington.”
“We are proud of our workforce,” he continued. “We are lucky to have such great groundskeepers and mechanics working the Rocket Mortgage Classic and throughout the year — and are determined to continue compensating our team with above-market pay and benefits.”