Unions the Problem at CSX resort The Greenbrier

A local’s take on the problems at the storied West Virginia resort.

GreenbrierDear BrandlandUSA:

“The Greenbrier has struggled with the union for years. Another problem has been that management has fleeced them too. If a person works for the Greenbrier from the President to a store manager, they have full use of the facilities for a cost of zero. If a person is a union employee and works as a bread girl, they make $50,000 to $60,000 a year while the person who works in the sales dept (selling conferences primarily) makes $30,000 to $40,000.

I am not sure if you know that The Greenbrier (a unit of the CSX Railroad (NYSE: CSX) has been only using half of their rooms, because they have laid off most of the union employees. Right now they only have 70 chefs in their employ. They are unable to accommodate to full capacity.

Before the stand off with the union, the only time the house count was low was during the January to March season, otherwise they were pretty much fully booked. They have always lost money, just more like 5 or 8 million. When all the layoffs began, all the store managers were told not to buy one more piece of merchandise, box or tissue etc. until further notice. Someone who owns the shoe store opened another store in Roanoke because  business was so low.

The stand off with the union is the problem. What the union is angry about is that they are not getting health insurance for what they think is an acceptable price. Keep in mind that union employees used to pay zero, and now there would, if accepted, be a co-pay of $150 a month deducted from their paychecks.  It would be interesting to see what a bread girl would make at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club; as I recall, they don’t have unions there.

Unions know no else

The union employees at The Greenbrier have worked there for generations and have no comparisons in the hospitality industry; this is all they have ever known. The Greenbrier cannot afford the union, and yet it is stuck, because they are dealing with a union. Apparently, if CSX’s Greenbrier goes bankrupt and closes for a year they can break the union. Our guess around here is that they are involving Goldman to go along the motions “That the Greenbrier can’t be saved” so as to close and break the union.

There are also rumors that they have sold to MGM. If they do close, I hope it’s like the war, and the new Greenbrier re-opens after a year and has a coming out like never before. There is another issue with the county vote for gaming at The Greenbrier, which did not pass 6 or 7 years ago, however it did  pass this past November. The union pushed it in a big way. But  the first time it was allowed by the West Virginia statehouse and senate they only had 3 years to put it into play if you will. Now to allow gaming, it would  have to go back to the house and senate and be voted on again, which could take forever.”

Note: This is our response to our first post on The Greenbrier; we thought it had some great insights. The writer is somebody who knows the place intimately, loves the Greenbrier, but he wishes to remain anonymous.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website BrandlandUSA.com has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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  1. I am agreeing with openeyes.
    This article is .. i can’t even put it in to words, other than it needs to be taken down from the internet. seriously.
    it just pisses me off that people go nosing around and ranting off about things that they know so little about.
    There is an unmatched sense of dedication in the employees that work there, giving up all time with family and friends to work at this WORLD RENOWNED resort.
    If one took the time to investigate, they would see that in most of the reviews, it was the people who worked there that provided the elevated ambience that cannot be found elsewhere.
    It’s just sad that some people can’t see this, and are always looking to the downside.
    Sure, unions are a bit outdated in our time, however they do come with benefits, and like any other job security, they do have faults. I guaruntee that if you were on the other side of the fence, you would be arguing the other way.
    I think the saying is .. you must first walk in another man’s shoes before you can talk about him?
    perhaps you ought to give that one a try and do some actual factual research before posting this nonsense.
    i’m all up for discussion,
    go ahead and try.

  2. just want to add in that the MOST a breadgirl will make is 20,000. First of all. Second…. let’s add the fact that we do pay insurance, sure, it’s a great deal, but for someone busting their ass the whole time, let’s add that insurance deducted monthly is like 70-90, not zero. Sure, there are problems negotiating, but come on, if you want to badmouth you should at least do it with some correct facts. The only people who make 30-50,000 a year are those working 80 hours a week, which i guaruntee you don’t. My advice, do some research before you go boasting on your unauthenticated rants.

  3. Full use of the facilities at a cost of zero? Put the crack pipe down and step away from the computer. Any employee can play golf free of charge. That’s about it. We get discounts on other things, but have to pay for everything else.

    Tell the truth: Past management was inept at dealing with the unions because there was no real drive for profitability from csx. So they’d cave under threat of strike every single time.

    Times changed, the business climate changed. The notion that the house was always full may have been true years ago, but not recently.

    The unions were unwilling to let go of the great deals they had. It was past management’s poor negotiating that lead to those bad deals. Current management tried to rectify the situation. The unions exacerbated a bad financial situation. And the nose was cut off to spite the face.

  4. Bull crap the union told them that we would leave everything the same. We won’t even ask for more money. The hotel said no way will we go for that.

  5. It sure is easy to say that the unions are the problem at the Greenbrier……

    The Greenbrier has been fleeced by both its management and its owners for many years, having been treated as the personal playground of the hotel’s and CSX’s top management. The unions cannot be faulted for NEGOTIATING mutually agreed upon contracts over the years that have been beneficial to the ALL the employees, both union and non-union. If management would be open and forthcoming with information about the true financial status of the resort, the unions would be eager to work on a mutually satisfactory agreement.

    As for right now, it has never been true that employees pay nothing for their healthcare. Monthly insurance premiums for a family currently cost approximately $105 for medical and modest dental coverage. The proposal last made by management at the bargaining table would increase that monthly premium to $400+ immediately, with annual increases.

    An unfortunate consequence of unions is to protect individuals that are not only less than productive, but even detrimental to the overall operation. It is very difficult to weed out the “bad apples.” At the same time, there are many employees working at the Greenbrier who are devoted 2nd, 3rd, even 4th generation employees. Careers of 50+ years have not been uncommon. This tradition offers an employee heritage to match that of the hotel’s history.

    Unfortunately, the pride, consistency, quality and sense of ownership gained through devoted employees have been severely damaged over the last several years. This can be traced back to management’s reaction to the Greenbrier’s loss of the Mobil 5-Star Award. Attributed to a combination of service and amenity shortcomings, and simply an aging facility, the loss of the fifth star led to a series of very poor management decisions. Virtually all have been attempts to change the very essence of the Greenbrier. Ask how much has been spent on failed facilities, policies, and methods! Then ask about the accounting methods and semantics that enable the worst-possible loss figures to be released. A little investigation would be most revealing!

    Any discussion?

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