By Kris Maher/The Wall Street Journal
The Service Employees International Union agreed Thursday to end a heated public-relations campaign against food-service giant Sodexo Inc. as part of a legal settlement, raising questions about the ability of high-pressure public campaigns to get companies to agree to union organizing without secret-ballot elections.
Sodexo filed a lawsuit in March under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, alleging that the SEIU conspired to extort Sodexo by threatening financial damage unless the company submitted to union organizing via cards, rather than secret-ballot elections. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia.
The settlement means the end of a distracting and costly organizing campaign for Sodexo, labor experts said, and it is a setback for the SEIU’s efforts to gain more members at the company. Both sides indicated Thursday that future organizing by the SEIU would occur with secret-ballot elections, which is often more expensive and time-consuming for unions.