A Service Employees International Union “contract campaign manual,” recently released as part of an ongoing lawsuit against the union, reveals a host of unseemly tactics the SEIU recommends using against employers who resist unionization efforts. Those include efforts to undermine a business financially, intimidate individual managers, and use political pressure to increase the cost of doing business.
Even more striking: the manual encourages workers to violate the law. “Union members sometimes must act in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King and Mohatma Gandhi,” the manual states, “and disobey laws which are used to enforce injustice against working people.”
The manual, first exposed by Vincent Vernuccio of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, suggests workers conduct illegal activity that might still advance the cause of unionization. “Certain acts which might technically be illegal,” it advises, “might be seen by the public, news media, customers, or other potential worker allies as justifiable and not something the employer should be challenging.”
As an example, the manual lists laws against possessing stolen documents: “let’s say workers obtain insider information showing that the polluted the environment or cheated on its taxes. Revealing that information might technically expose workers to charges of possessing stolen documents,” but it still may be an effective strategy to advance the SEIU’s case, the manual claims.
“Even if the workers of the union might be found guilty,” the manual goes on to claim, “you have to consider what the penalty is likely to be.” In other words, illegal activities can be effective tools to advance the cause of unionization, and potential penalties should always be weighed against the central objective of those activities.
The manual also details a number of legal though ethically questionable practices designed to hurt a company or its managers until it accedes to the union’s demands. In the introduction to its section on “Pressuring the Employer,” it recommends a number of tactics:
- 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.
- Legal and regulatory pressure can threaten the employer with costly action by government agencies or the courts.
- Community action and use of the news media can damage an employer’s public image and ties with community leaders and organizations.
The manual was released as part of the discovery in process in a lawsuit filed against the SEIU by the food service company Sodexo. The company is alleging a massive effort on the part of the SEIU to intimidate and harass Sodexo employees and to hurt the company’s reputation in an effort to unionize more than 80,000 employees.
Sodexo alleged a number of unseemly practices in a press release announcing the lawsuit:
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.
A number of those alleged activities reflect the unionization-by-intimidation tactics outlined in the manual, suggesting, perhaps unsurprisingly, that employees learn from and follow the directions handed down by SEIU brass.
Given that fact, it’s a bit unsettling that it also advises workers to violate the law whenever they feel it produces “injustice against working people” – especially where the interests of “working people” are considered synonymous with the interests of the SEIU.
The SEIU did not return a request for comment by press time.
UPDATE: Vernuccio discussed the dirty tricks on FOX Business yesterday: