Statement of Service Employees International Union on Bogus Lawsuit Filed by Sodexo

Mar 18, 2011, 16:28 ET from Service Employees International Union

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Service Employees International Union on the lawsuit filed by Sodexo:

The suit filed by French company Sodexo is bogus litigation meant to deprive workers of the right to bargain collectively with their employers and undermines the middle class in the United States. It is not about which union represents Sodexo workers, but about whether Sodexo workers can bargain collectively at all.

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.

Over the past year, Sodexo has engaged in anti-union activity both here and in other countries to stop their employees from gaining the right to collectively bargain. In Colombia, they failed to enter into collective bargaining discussions with workers despite an order by the Colombian minister of Social Protection to do so by Feb. 13. In the Dominican Republic, they failed to attend mediation called by the Secretary for Labor's Director of Mediation and Conciliation to establish collective bargaining rights for workers. In Morocco, workers who have spoken out about unfair labor conditions have been fired, interrogated and spied upon.

In the United States, Sodexo recently agreed to settle a free speech case before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Under the settlement agreement, the company is required to issue a new media policy that does not infringe upon the right of workers to speak to the public about their working conditions and workplace issues. Other charges being investigated include an illegal firing, interrogation, surveillance and threats. This activity is the basis of at least five unfair labor practice charges against Sodexo that are pending before the NLRB. In seven other cases, Sodexo—faced with the threat of government action—settled a wide range of charges related to unlawful interference with workers' legally protected rights.

SOURCE Service Employees International Union