Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sodexo Update

Protests continue against food service giant Sodexo.  Organizers of the protests say that Sodexo continues to supress worker's rights to organize and fails to pay their workers a living wage or provide adequate benefits.  Sodexo has a long history of this kind of underpayment and labor supression.
Last year, a Human Rights Watch report on Sodexo found “violations of workers’ freedom of association.” The report found that managers used intimidation tactics, including threats that workers could be replaced if they went on strike for better wages and working conditions. “Despite claims of adherence to international standards on workers’ freedom of association, Sodexo has launched aggressive campaigns against some of its U.S. employees’ efforts to form unions and bargain collectively,” the report says. “In some instances, Sodexo has crossed the line to anti-union behavior unlawful under both U.S. law and international standards." For instance, in 2003, after a union drive but before the vote, Sodexo had "threat-filled, captive-audience meetings" and fired workers for union activity, the report says. Two years later Sodexo settled a lawsuit with that union and reinstated and awarded back pay to four employees.
The NLRB is also paying attention to Sodexo's labor practices.
While 15 percent of the company’s employees are unionized, a National Labor Relations Board investigation found enough evidence to pursue charges against Sodexo stemming from anti-union activity at Tulane and Loyola Universities last year. The board said Sodexo spied on workers and retaliated against employees for union activity, among other things.
Sodexo has elected to fight back in court and last year filed a lawsuit against the SEIU under the RICO statute (part 1 & part 2 or complete (with OCR text)).  They claim a variety of illegal behavior on the part of SEIU but this looks a lot like a SLAPP suit:
A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff's goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat. The difficulty, of course, is that plaintiffs do not present themselves to the Court admitting that their intent is to censor, intimidate or silence their critics. Hence, the difficulty in drafting SLAPP legislation, and in applying it, is to craft an approach which affords an early termination to invalid abusive suits, without denying a legitimate day in court to valid good faith claims.

1 comment:

  1. A horrible company to work for. Northwest Nazarine university just switched its enviromental services to them. The health care is taking much of our check. We have a 3 minute window to check in and out. They are into writing you up for every little infraction. Your oppressed friend a sodexo worker.