John Ransom

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.”

John Ransom

John Ransom’s writings on politics and finance have appeared in the Los Angeles Business Journal, the Colorado Statesman, Pajamas Media and Registered Rep Magazine amongst others. Until 9/11, Ransom worked primarily in finance as an investment executive for NYSE member firm Raymond James and Associates, JW Charles and as a new business development executive at Mutual Service Corporation. He lives in San Diego. You can follow him on twitter @bamransom.

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