Sodexo at Emory
Sodexo is Emory University’s food service provider. Up until September 15, 2011, Sodexo was targeted for labor organization nationwide by union organizers with Service Employees International Union (SEIU). According to Sodexo, SEIU was funding another group, United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), so that USAS could mobilize university students and others against Sodexo, disrupt operations with Sodexo’s university clients including Emory, and pressure them to facilitate easier union organization by means other than the standard secret ballot election process.
During the spring semester 2011, several universities nationwide experienced building occupations, demonstrations and arrests in a pattern similar to that at Emory.
University of Washington
25 UW Students Arrested in Sit-In Over Vendor (Seattle Times, May 11, 2011)
Ohio State University
9 Arrested In Protest At Ohio State, Face Charges (WCMH-TV, May 23, 2011)
Sodexo Sues SEIU for Extortion
In March 2011, Sodexo filed a complaint (PDF) and sued the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for extortion under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act. Sodexo’s rationale for the suit is posted on their website:
“Sodexo USA has filed the lawsuit seeking to halt the SEIU’s extortionate threats and barrage of unlawful tactics. The complaint alleges acts of SEIU blackmail, vandalism, trespass, harassment, and lobbying law violations designed to steer business away from Sodexo USA and harm the company.”
“Sodexo USA recognizes the value of union activity and has built positive relationships with more than 30 different unions. Over 15 percent of Sodexo USA’s workforce is unionized, which is more than twice the national average for the private sector, and the Company has more than 300 collective bargaining agreements. Despite this positive record, the SEIU has engaged in a vicious campaign to force the Company into broadly recognizing the SEIU to the exclusion of other unions without allowing its employees in the U.S. to exercise their right to vote for or against the SEIU in a federally supervised secret ballot election.”
Part of the evidence that Sodexo and the court discovered in the case is an SEIU 'Contract Campaign Manual' (PDF) that Sodexo alleges is used to improperly pressure employers on labor issues. In September 2011, Sodexo and SEIU reached a settlement on this case.
- SEIU and Sodexo Reach Amicable Settlement (seiu.org)
- SEIU Ends Campaign Against Sodexo Following Settlement Agreement (sodexousa.com)
Additional links and documents
- Facts about Sodexo’s workforce at Emory (PDF)
- Eligibility and overview of benefits for Sodexo employees at Emory (PDF)
- Sodexo's employee handbook, which includes the "Promise of Respect and Fair Treatment"
- President Wagner responds to student questions related to Sodexo and the labor union, SEIU (PDF)
- Since 2003, Sodexo has been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. The United Nations Global Compact rated Sodexo at the Global Compact Advanced level — one of only 92 companies out of over 6,000 participant businesses worldwide to be rated by the United Nations at this level. Read more about Sodexo’s progress through August 2011.
- TransAfrica Forum’s Sodexo report (PDF)
- The President’s Cabinet shares its perspective with the Emory Wheel in April 2010