United States District Judge Claude Hilton, acting in the eastern district of Virginia, has ruled that the French-based food service and facilities management company Sodexo can proceed with an extortion claim against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
The SEIU, which has strong ties to the Obama administration, has been accused of using ties to the federal government to harass companies such as Sodexo. The alleged methods include using regulatory or government action to pressure or embarrass the company or its employees.
As shown by recent action taken by the National Labor Relations Board, including proposed rules to steamroll union organizing over company opposition and the fight to kill non-union jobs created by Boeing, the administration is not adverse to flexing it’s union muscles at the federal level.
Sodexo, which operates as a contractor in government facilities, military bases, schools and hospitals, says that the SEIU tried to “extort [the company] by threatening financial damage unless [it] cave[d] into its demands. The SEIU's campaign was designed to illegally threaten [the] company.”
Sedexo vowed to continue to “challenge the SEIU's illegal behavior until it ends,” says a statement released by the company.
The ruling means that the company can continue to pursue a civil case to stop the SEIU from using illegal tactics such as “blackmail, vandalism, trespassing, harassment and lobbying law violations, which were designed to steer government and private contracts away from Sodexo in order to damage the Company's business,” says the company.
The SEIU responded by saying Sodexo’s claims were “baseless.”
“The ruling means that SEIU will have an opportunity to prove the facts about our organization, our members, and our work regarding Sodexo,” said a statement released by the SEIU.
The Blog of the Legal Times says that the union has been accused “of carrying out a negative publicity campaign in order to strong-arm exclusive access to Sodexo’s non-union employees. Sodexo claimed the union was attempting to unlawfully unionize employees and increase revenue in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.”
According to the National Legal and Policy Center only 18,000 of the company’s 98,000 qualified employees have chosen to join the SEIU. In retaliation, says the NLPC, the union has carried out a campaign of intimidation that includes:
- threw plastic roaches onto food at a high-profile event catered by Sodexo;
- scared hospital patients by insinuating that Sodexo food contained bugs, rat droppings, mold and flies;
- sneaked into elementary schools to avoid security;
- violated lobbying laws to steer business away from the company; and
- threatened Sodexo USA employees with public exposure of alleged wrongdoing.
The NLPC also revealed that the union may be operating from an “internal SEIU monograph, titled Contract Campaign Manual. The monograph serves as a veritable bible for waging guerrilla warfare against recalcitrant employers. The Washington, D.C.-based free-market think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, obtained a copy from the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.”
The NLPC says that manual encourages “jeopardizing relationships between the employer and lenders, investors, stockholders, customers, clients, patients, tenants, politicians, or others on whom the employer depends for funds.: The manual also recommends applying legal and, most telling “regulatory pressure” in order to “"threaten the employer with costly action by government agencies or the courts."
Where would the regulatory pressure or government action come from? The SEIU reportedly spent $60 million electing Barack Obama.
The manual, says the NLPC, goes on to encourage organizers to personally harass board members, shareholders and management officials with “dirt” in order to further facilitate union organizing at a target company.
On July 1st the Competitive Enterprise Institute published the SEIU’s plan “to launch a national campaign of economic strong-arming and sabotage. Their plan envisions mortgage and student loan strikes and bank boycotts. Also contemplated are acts of harassment and intimidation directed against bank officials, corporate heads and public officials deemed to be enemies of the people.”
So if indeed the SEIU has been guilty of illegal activities such as using government influence to threaten or intimidate companies or individuals, the question is how much does the Obama administration know and how high does it go?
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