Some Detroit Golf Club workers threaten to strike during Rocket Mortgage Classic

The Detroit News

Detroit — Some Detroit Golf Club workers are threatening to hold a strike during the Rocket Mortgage Classic this week.

The seven groundskeepers and mechanics, who have been working without a contract for a year, accused the club of failing to negotiate in good faith.

Their union, Teamsters Local 299, said the two sides are haggling over pay, health care and job security.

"The way the club has treated these workers is nothing short of shameful," said Kevin Moore, union local president. "This ends now."

The eyes of the golf world will be on the Detroit Golf Club from June 25-30 for the PGA Tour's inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic.

The golf club defended its compensation offers, and accused the union of using the looming golf tournament as leverage in negotiations.

"The Teamsters have chosen this magnificent event to score political points for their bosses in Washington," said Andy Glassberg, club president.

Both sides blamed the other for a breakdown in negotiations.

The union said Glassberg walked out of negotiations on June 14. Glassberg said the union had cancelled bargaining sessions.

The union said it is seeking an annual pay raise of 3%, or 45 cents an hour. It also wants more help with health care costs and contract language that protects their jobs.

Glassberg said workers were offered wages and benefits that were 4% higher a year, totaling 17% over the life of the contract.

The union said the once struggling club froze pay in 2009 and cut compensation by $3.50 per hour in 2015.

The club also increased health care costs by $600 a month by switching health plans, said Moore.

Now that the club is doing better financially, it's time to reward the workers for their sacrifices, he said.

"It's time to take care of the workers that got them to this point," said Moore.

But Glassberg said the workers are well-off compared to their brethren at other golf clubs.

He said it's rare for club workers to have health care benefits, and believed their pay was among the highest in the state.

Glassberg said, despite the club's past economic troubles, it raised the pay of the workers over the last 10 years.

"We believe our offer is more than fair," he said. "We are ready to reach a resolution."

The PGA Tour and Quicken Loans, the organizer and sponsor of the golf tournament, declined to comment.

Besides possibly striking, the union, which represents 4,000 workers from several industries, may have up to 100 people picketing at the tournament.

"Glassberg seems intent on forcing a showdown in Motown," said Moore.