Denying Employee Votes

SEIU takes away employees’ rights to secret ballot votes in order to get more union dues.

SEIU’s strategy to unionize a workplace differs from the ideals of a democratic process. Rather than collecting signed petitions to hold a secret ballot vote on whether a majority of employees want to form a union, the SEIU prefers to pressure employers into a so-called “neutrality agreement” through a “corporate campaign.”

card-iconSodexo, a cafeteria company, was targeted by an SEIU corporate campaign in the late 2000s. In response to alleged illegal activity, Sodexo sued the SEIU for racketeering under the RICO Act. Sodexo obtained the SEIU “Contract Campaign Manual” that details how a corporate campaign works. An entire section of the manual is dedicated to putting pressure on employers—pressure the SEIU uses to change the way a union is formed by using a neutrality agreement and “card check.”

SEIU card-check campaigns are notorious for employee deception. In July 2006, SEIU was forced to abandon a “card check” organizing drive after a Portland, Oregon employee said union organizers misled her co-workers by claiming that signing a union authorization card “merely expressed her interest for a formal vote.” The SEIU withdrew a petition for election with the National Labor Relations Board amid allegations SEIU Local 509 organizers misled employees into signing union authorization cards by telling them it was a survey from the employer. A California hospital employee filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging improprieties in SEIU’s card check, since employees who signed cards no longer worked in the bargaining unit. After an NLRB regional director found that the card-check did not show a majority, the union, the employer, and the NLRB settled the case by holding a subsequent secret-ballot vote. The election showed the union was not supported.

Under a “neutrality agreement,” the employer and SEIU agree that the employer will recognize the SEIU based on SEIU-obtained cards rather than a government-supervised secret ballot vote. The SEIU helped lead an effort in 2009 that would have mandated these “card checks” under law through the misleadingly named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). It failed when a few Senate Democrats decided not to pursue the radical proposal.

Some agreements require the employer to turn over employees’ private contact information to SEIU organizers, who can then go to employees’ homes to gain card-signature “votes” for unionization by intimidation. If employers don’t comply and attempt to defend their employees’ rights to secret ballots, the SEIU will drag the company through the mud using a variety of dirty tactics: public protests; nuisance complaints with labor authorities, zoning boards, and other government agencies; and sophisticated media campaigns that destroy the company’s ability to conduct business as usual.