Sodexo, a major player in the food service and janitorial industries, filed a RICO lawsuit against the SEIU in March of this year, because of the SEIU’s use of corporate campaign tactics to enforce “Card Check” on unprotected employees. Evidently, the SEIU’s failed attempt to have Sodexo’s suit dismissed and Sodexo’s intent to move to trial has motivated the SEIU to end their campaign against Sodexo (see SEIU to End Sodexo Campaign). Consequently, Sodexo elected to settle with the SEIU out of court.
While Sodexo will characterize this as a victory, I find the result very disappointing, as Sodexo had the opportunity to take this case through the legal system, and had an excellent chance of winning and thereby setting a legal precedent that would have benefited employees and employers across the country. Many experts believe this case may restrict corporate campaigns in the future, however I believe the experts and Sodexo are naive. Based on the terms that have been made public, both sides appear to be agreeing to do what they are required to do all along under the National Labor Relations Act “NLRA” (see Facing RICO Suit, SEIU Ends Two-Year Corporate Campaign Against Sodexo).
Big labor will now just find another way to intimidate employees and employers and process corporate campaigns just as has happened when others such as Wackenhut have settled, or when suits such as Cintas’s have been dismissed. Make no mistake, big labor is not only crafty and understands how to misconstrue and misrepresent the message to circumvent NLRA law, it actually views these agreements through a different prism. Sodexo may have provided itself some breathing room, but the SEIU and other big labor bosses understand they have the NLRB on their side and new regulatory changes are in the pipeline designed to shorten election times, thereby eliminating the ability of the employer to effectively communicate their message to employees (see Plan to Ease Way for Unions and Employers Criticize Proposal to Speed Union Votes).
This is no more than an effort to mask corporate campaigns and ‘Card Check” under the guise of Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review as related in my prior blogs: A Death Penalty for Employees and Employers, Rule by Fiat and Card Check through Regulation vs. Legislation. Recently, the NLRB demonstrated its willingness to implement its pro-labor agenda by forcing businesses to post notices of employee rights under the NLRA in their workplace (see Labor Relations Board Rule Would Require Businesses to Alert Workers to Union Rights and Make Organizing Rights Posting Available for Downloading and prior blog Political Aspirations & Payback Ahead of American Jobs). To be sure, shortened elections, just as required postings will be pushed through next by the rogue NLRB and Sodexo and all employers and employees will have to face a new form of corporate campaign designed to achieve “card check”.
The extremely sad part about all of this is employees are the ones who will truly suffer. A current poll shows that more employees do not see the value in unions than those that do (see 48% See No Further Need for Labor Unions, 30% Disagree). Perhaps more telling, however, is the following short e-mail from a Sodexo employee who has corresponded with me regularly during the SEIU” corporate campaign against Sodexo:
“Wow, I don’t know how I feel about today’s announcement. I will be curious to see if the “group” of “unhappy” workers will leave it alone now. I can’t believe they would just give up. This whole thing has been so upsetting to so many people at my workplace that I doubt we will ever get back to the way we were before the SEIU came calling.”
I believe the e-mail says it all.
The Sodexo/SEIU truce is truly a missed opportunity to protect employees, employers and American freedoms through legal precedent. The Gasping Dinosaurs are not going down without a fight. Wake up Americans: Beware of Rogue NLRB.
About the author: David A. Bego is the President and CEO of EMS, an industry leader in the field of environmental workplace maintenance, employing nearly 5000 workers in thirty-three states. Bego is the author of “The Devil at My Doorstep,” based on his experiences fighting back against one of the most powerful unions in existence today.