SEIU Hit With RICO Lawsuit, Blames Hunton and Williams and…Koch Brothers

After years of being harassed by the purple people beaters, one company has finally said ENOUGH.

In a press release issued Thursday, Sodexo USA announced that the company has filed a civil lawsuit against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act., accusing the union of engaging in an “illegal campaign of extortion.” The lawsuit representing Sodexo is Hunton & Williams – the same firm SEIU and its allies have accused of launching a “dirty tricks” campaign against them in retaliation for their anti-Chamber of Commerce campaigns. (more on that after the jump)

One of the largest food services and facilities management companies in the world, Sodexo is the provider of choice for most schools, universities, companies, hotels, prisons and other facilities that outsource their cafeteria and food catering operations, and for those that outsource industrial cleaning services. SEIU has been incessantly battering Sodexo since 2007, in its desire to unionize some of its nearly 400,000 employees, many of them hotel and food service workers. Exacerbating the tensions was a longstanding turf war between SEIU and UNITE HERE over hotel and casino workers, which often spilled over into SEIU’s antics prior to the settlement the warring unions reached this past summer.

Sodexo USA has filed the lawsuit in an attempt to halt the over-the-top harassment from SEIU, alleging that many of the acts are very serious and outside of the normal realm of union tactics, including acts of ” SEIU blackmail, vandalism, trespass, harassment, and lobbying law violations designed to steer business away from Sodexo USA and harm the company.” [emphasis added]

Aside from some of its usual corporate smear campaign tactics, certain organizers in the SEIU subscribed to some especially nasty, and frankly repulsive, tactics:

The complaint alleges that the SEIU, in face to face meetings, threatened Sodexo USA’s executives that it would harm Sodexo USA’s business unless they gave in to the union, and then carried out its threats through egregious behavior, including:

  • throwing plastic roaches onto food being served by Sodexo USA at a high profile event;
  • scaring hospital patients by insinuating that Sodexo USA food contained bugs, rat droppings, mold and flies;
  • lying to interfere with Sodexo USA business and sneaking into elementary schools to avoid security;
  • violating lobbying laws to steer business away from Sodexo USA, even at the risk of costing Sodexo USA employees their jobs; and
  • harassing Sodexo USA employees by threatening to accuse them of wrongdoing.

Sodexo maintains that it has built successful partnerships with other unions.

Sodexo USA recognizes the value of union activity and has built positive relationships with more than 30 different unions. Over 15 percent of Sodexo USA’s workforce is unionized, which is more than twice the national average for the private sector, and the Company has more than 300 collective bargaining agreements. Despite this positive record, the SEIU has engaged in a vicious campaign to force the Company into broadly recognizing the SEIU to the exclusion of other unions without allowing its employees in the U.S. to exercise their right to vote for or against the SEIU in a federally supervised secret ballot election.

Of course, the more typical tactics employed by SEIU against Sodexo have been front and center over the last few years:

The unions wasn’t content to gain all that media exposure when actor Danny Glover and then SEIU President Andy Stern got themselves arrested as a publicity stunt to protest Sodexo.

And it wasn’t good enough for SEIU to have indoctrinated college students, agitated them and used them as pawns in their disingenuous organizing activities and corporate smear campaigns.

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Let’s be honest, is it so much to expect union workers to do their own marching anymore? Instead of paying astroturfers and college kids? It’s difficult for the general public to muster any sympathy for the union’s plight, when so often what we see is not genuine grassroots union organizing or fighting for the middle class. This is why even so many union members themselves don’t necessarily stand by their union leadership.

And who can forget SEIU’s timing in attacking Sodexo, too. Like their shameless abuse of the Olympic Games tragedy last year, when, in the wake of the death of a competing Georgian luger, SEIU issued press releases alleging complaints about Food Safety at the games. Of course, many of the Sodexo employees had already been there serving these athletes all week, and were themselves in shock from the luger’s death. But the tragedy didn’t stop SEIU from issuing attacks against them anyway and attempting to scare Olympics visitors into believing there were issues with the food Sodexo was serving.

When standard labor organizing tactics failed to generate support or to bring about the actions that it wanted from Sodexo USA, SEIU resorted to thuggish tactics of harassing customers and fellow employees alike, according to the RICO suit.

SEIU Blames Koch, Scott Walker and Invokes Anonymous’ HBGary Hacking in its Response

And in an odd turn of events, SEIU crafted a response to news of the lawsuit that itself makes some rather extraordinary accusations.

In a statement issued yesterday, SEIU responded to the lawsuit by calling it a “bogus litigation meant to deprive workers of the right to bargain collectively with their employers and undermines the middle class in the United States.” The union takes extra care to point out that Sodexo’s law firm is Hunton & Williams, the same firm at the center of the scandal that the left has manufactured out of the recent hacking attack on cybersecurity vendor HB Gary by the pro-WikiLeaks group Anonymous. The incident prompted SEIU coalition partners Velvet Revolution /Stop the Chamber to hit the firm with an ethics complaint.

Collective bargaining and union representation are under attack in the United States. Already, Gov. Scott Walker has severely limited the collective bargaining rights of public employees in Wisconsin. Conservative groups, such as the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, are financing and running campaigns to undermine unions in the United States and end collective bargaining for U.S. workers. Hunton & Williams, Sodexo’s law firm, is at the forefront of the assault on American workers. Public documents show that Hunton & Williams retained three cybersecurity vendors to run a “dirty tricks” campaign designed to discredit SEIU and others. The proposed tactics included using fraudulent documents to discredit members of the labor movement and using illegal tactics to spy on SEIU and other “enemies” of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Nowhere in the discussions made public did Hunton & Williams question these tactics.

I highly recommend that our readers go back and read my post regarding the HB Gary hacking and the Chamberleaks “dirty tricks” campaign that SEIU refers to as apparent justification for its egregious behavior against Sodexo USA.

Aside from being a very recent occurrence, (note: the Sodexo attacks have been ongoing since 2007), the entire HB Gary / Hunton & Williams / Chamber of Commerce / Anonymous fallout has far, far, far more to do with other scandals and the propagandist techniques of Big Labor & some of John Podesta’s JournoListas than anything to do with Sodexo. Their blatant omissions of glaring facts that were revealed in the hacked emails are merely the beginning of some of the disingenuous reporting.

The right has been rather silent on the scandals spawned by the HB Gary hacking. But complex stories take time to research and write. Be assured, some of us have been busy pouring through the HB Gary emails too. While some on the left have been swindling Congress into an investigation based on their distorted reporting on the story, some of us have been studying the facts carefully. With so much propaganda out there, it makes for some pretty muddy muck to rake.

Reading SEIU’s response to the RICO lawsuit merely assured me that we live in a day and age right now where propaganda is rampant, as is harassment and intimidation. Citizen journalists are needed now more than ever to speak out, to stick together, and to dig up the facts and focus on even the most complex of stories. Without this, there will be no sunlight. We already gave you a tiny glance at how some of the left responds with fear tactics.

Stay tuned – because this is only the beginning. More on this, much more, is yet to come. You can count on that.


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