SEIU Corporate Campaigns Include Tabloid Tactics


SEIU’s union organizers will not stop at almost nothing to gain their organizing ends. Perhaps most egregious of all is the way its “street demonstrations, †supposedly spontaneous grass-roots affairs organized by the rank and file, are, in reality, carefully orchestrated by organizers steeped in the radical Saul Alinsky philosophy.   The goal is to harass corporate officers into agreeing to a “neutral†position on organizing and negotiating, easing the way for union organizing, and ensuring contract negotiations are a sure victory for union negotiators. 

L. M. Sixel writes about SEIU’s corporate campaigns in the Houston Chronicle.

SEIU’s strategy is laid out in its “Contract Campaign Manual,” which surfaced as evidence during a federal lawsuit filed last year in which the union was sued by food-services and facilities-management giant Sodexo. The French company alleged a campaign of threats, intimidation and extortion.

The guide recommends hiring students to pose as researchers to get inside information against a corporate target; find unrelated regulatory complaints for legal and regulatory pressure; and search a variety of sources, from divorce records to membership in clubs that discriminate to links with unpopular politicians, to find incriminating details on company officials.

“It may be a violation of blackmail and extortion laws to threaten management officials with release of ‘dirt’ about them if they don’t settle a contract,” according to the guide. “But there is no law against union members who are angry at their employer deciding to uncover and publicize factual information about individual managers.”

While many union organizers focus on traditional employee problems – wages, hours and working conditions – others make threats to gain leverage, said Roppolo, who has represented companies that have been targets of corporate campaigns.

They try to find the weak spot, he said, whether it’s a personal management issue, sensitivity to publicity or a customer who is particularly sensitive to an issue.

“When you see a manual like this, you see what’s behind the curtain, and it’s not pretty,” Roppolo said.

In its lawsuit, filed in Virginia, Sodexo contended SEIU threatened to destroy the company’s reputation and forced it to lose millions of dollars in government contracts when it refused to automatically recognize the union if it gathered the signatures of a majority of employees.

SEIU agreed to drop its public campaign against Sodexo when it settled the lawsuit last September, according to the union’s news release.

“Outside pressure can involve jeopardizing relationships between the employer and lenders, investors, stockholders, customers, clients, patients, tenants, politicians or others on whom the employer depends for funds,” the manual states in the chapter “Pressuring the Employer.”

Escalating those efforts, the manual continues, will show members, the news media and community allies “that each new tactic was adopted only when management failed to respond to milder demonstrations of workers’ determination.”

“A union will do what it has to do,” said Richard Shaw, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO of Harris County.