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PORTSIDELABOR  September 2011, Week 3

PORTSIDELABOR September 2011, Week 3

Subject:

SEIU to End Sodexo Campaign

From:

Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Sun, 18 Sep 2011 23:06:34 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (92 lines)

SEIU to End Sodexo Campaign
 
By Kris Maher

Wall Street Journal
September 15, 2011

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904491704576573074162700598.html

The Service Employees International Union agreed Thursday to
end a heated public-relations campaign against food-service
giant Sodexo Inc. as part of a legal settlement, raising
questions about the ability of high-pressure public
campaigns to get companies to agree to union organizing
without secret-ballot elections.

Sodexo filed a lawsuit in March under the Racketeer
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, alleging
that the SEIU conspired to extort Sodexo by threatening
financial damage unless the company submitted to union
organizing via cards, rather than secret-ballot elections.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern
District of Virginia.

The settlement means the end of a distracting and costly
organizing campaign for Sodexo, labor experts said, and it
is a setback for the SEIU's efforts to gain more members at
the company. Both sides indicated Thursday that future
organizing by the SEIU would occur with secret-ballot
elections, which is often more expensive and time-consuming
for unions.

"With this settlement, we can begin the process of resuming
a constructive relationship with the SEIU that is consistent
with Sodexo's strong record of respecting our employees'
rights under national labor laws," said Robert Stern, Sodexo
USA's general counsel. The company has 120,000 employees in
North America, including 18,000 represented by 30 unions.

The SEIU said that both sides "affirmed their mutual
commitment to the rights of Sodexo employees to make free
and informed choices about unionization." The settlement
terms are confidential.

Experts said the decision could weaken union efforts to
pressure companies to agree to let unions organize workers
via cards rather than secret ballot elections, a major union
strategy in recent years. Such campaigns typically use
negative publicity about safety and worker issues with
support from politicians, community members and even
investors.

"It will have a chilling effect on corporate campaigns,"
said Nelson Lichtenstein, a professor of history at the
University of California at Santa Barbara.

In 2009, the SEIU launched a campaign called Clean Up Sodexo
that broadly attacked the company over food safety and other
issues.

In its lawsuit, Sodexo alleged that the SEIU engaged in
blackmail, vandalism, trespass, harassment and lobbying-law
violations intended to prevent Sodexo from winning certain
contracts. At one point, the lawsuit alleged, SEIU staff
entered a medical conference that Sodexo had catered and
threw plastic roaches on food being served there.

RICO cases have been brought against unions before. A
lawsuit brought by the laundry company Cintas Corp. against
Unite Here was dismissed in 2009. But in July the court in
the Sodexo case ruled against the SEIU's motion to dismiss
the suit, and the company was beginning discovery and trial
preparation.

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people on the left that will help them to interpret the
world and to change it.

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