Last March food service provider Sodexo filed a racketeering lawsuit against the Service Employees International Union, and yesterday a federal judge greenlighted the case to proceed according to a press release from the company:
"The court has validated our decision to file this lawsuit using the federal racketeering statute," said Sodexo General Counsel Robert Stern. "This ruling clears the path to discovery and trial, allowing us to present evidence the SEIU has conspired to extort Sodexo by threatening financial damage unless we cave into its demands."
As part of its case Sodexo points to a supposed 70-page SEIU "Contract Campaign Manual" on "Pressuring The Employer" which, among other things, apparently recommends "damage an employer's public image" and "going after company officials personally" as reported by F. Vincent Vernuccio for The Washington Times:
Not mincing words, SEIU states, "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. But there is no law against union members who are angry at their employer deciding to uncover and publicize factual information about individual managers."
Indeed, the complaint specifically alleges that SEIU was "harassing Sodexo USA employees by threatening to accuse them of wrongdoing" according to a press release issued by the company when the suit was filed. The complaint also alleges SEIU threw "plastic roaches onto food being served by Sodexo USA at a high profile event" and scared "hospital patients by insinuating that Sodexo USA food contained bugs, rat droppings, mold and flies."
In response, SEIU claims it's only exercising First Amendment rights of free speech and association, and now welcomes the "opportunity to prove the facts about our organization, our members, and our work regarding Sodexo" according to its press release.
Of course, there is no First Amendment right to engage in blackmail, vandalism, trespassing, harassment and lobbying law violations in order to damage Sodexo's business as alleged in the lawsuit.
Let the case begin.