WASHINGTON, March 17 The American unit of
French catering giant Sodexo SA (EXHO.PA) on Thursday filed a
civil racketeering lawsuit accusing the Service Employees
International Union of engaging in illegal tactics in its
efforts to unionize workers.
The company levied numerous charges accusing the union of
threatening employees and to damage company property, engaging
in illegal tactics to steer business away from Sodexo and
attempting to publicly tarnish its reputation.
The lawsuit is the latest twist in a fight over a bid by
SEIU to represent some of the 80,000 of Sodexo's hourly
employees who are not union members, a multi-year efforts by
the union. Some 18,000 hourly employees are union members.
"We work constructively with unions every day but the SEIU
has crossed the line by breaking the law," Robert Stern,
general counsel for Sodexo USA, said in a statement. "We will
not tolerate the SEIU's tactics any longer."
The company filed the lawsuit in federal court in
Alexandria, Virginia, and asked for an injunction against SEIU,
as well as unspecified monetary damages.
The SEIU has accused Sodexo of union bashing and poor
working conditions for its employees.
Renee Asher, a spokeswoman for the union, said they had not
been served with the lawsuit or notified of it and therefore
had no immediate comment.
Last week, the SEIU said Sodexo agreed to settle a case
that was pending before the U.S. National Labor Relations Board
over a policy that barred workers from talking to the media
about any subject.
The new policy only limits comments when the employees are
speaking on behalf of the company, the union said.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; editing by Andre Grenon)