Wednesday, September 28, 2011

RICO Rocks the Purple Palace

Tasty hears there’s been lots of finger-pointing inside the Purple Palace ever since SEIU’s devastating court settlement with Sodexo. Apparently, lots of the fingers are pointing at Tom Woodruff (SEIU Executive Vice President) and Mike Fishman (president of SEIU Local 32BJ in New York). 

So what’s “RICO?” It’s the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, a law created to take on criminal organizations like the mafia. In March, a giant company called Sodexo filed a 125-page lawsuit against SEIU in federal court alleging that SEIU violated the RICO Act by engaging in an “illegal campaign of extortion” where the union engaged in acts of “blackmail, vandalism, trespass, harassment, and lobbying law violations” to get Sodexo to recognize SEIU as its exclusive union.

In late July, a judge threw out SEIU’s effort to dismiss the lawsuit and ordered SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, Mike Fishman, Tom Woodruff and others to stand trial. That’s when the SEIU officials began crapping their pants.

And according to an East Coast SEIU insider, the SEIU executive management was petrified that the union would be subject to fines of up to $1 billion, not an unrealistic assumption since damages pursuant to RICO may be tripled.

Of greater concern was that a public trial would result in the disclosure of many documents and actions that would result in very unfavorable publicity.  This would lead to many extensive legal and ethical investigations into the union’s business practices and political activities, including the conduct and actions of its officers and members.  This, in turn, would jeopardize the SEIU’s reputation and relationship with numerous political entities whose employees are represented by the union… In other words, the SEIU “has too much dirty laundry” and “too much to lose.”
So how did SEIU’s courageous officials respond to the challenge of a jury trial?  They collapsed like a house of cards. The SEIU bosses quickly signed a secret, out-of-court settlement with Sodexo so they could avoid a public trial.

And how much dues money did SEIU officials hand over to Sodexo? It’s a secret. The only part of the deal that’s public is the part that says SEIU must stop its campaign at Sodexo. Btw, Tasty hears that before the lawsuit, SEIU officials spent tens of millions of SEIU members’ dues dollars on the Sodexo campaign, including flying SEIU staffers to Sodexo’s corporate headquarters in Paris, France.

So why are lots of purple fingers pointing at Woodruff and Fishman? These two geniuses ran SEIU’s campaign against Sodexo. In fact, Fishman’s name is splashed all over the lawsuit, which alleges he played the role of the heavy-handed guy who delivered telephoned threats to Sodexo (try doing a search for "Fishman" in the lawsuit, and you'll see what Tasty means). As for Woodruff, some say his role in SEIU’s RICO debacle explains why he’s resigning next year.

What’s the upshot for the labor movement? Not good news. SEIU, instead of running an honest organizing campaign, apparently chose to do the opposite… which will come as no great surprise to Kaiser workers. SEIU’s RICO suit gives a black eye to unions… and may embolden nasty bosses who might wanna try their hand at RICO suits against other unions. And for SEIU, it marks yet another devastating legal loss.

What about the seriously soiled trousers of SEIU’s head honchos? Tasty hopes they’ve been thoroughly laundered… and are ready for SEIU’s next crisis.