For more than a decade unions have become increasingly desperate to obtain new dues-paying members. One of the most successful tactics, aimed at larger employers, has been "the corporate campaign." This tactic is used to pressure corporate boardrooms as a means of organizing entire companies rather than by site-by-site secret ballot elections conducted by the NLRB. The typical corporate campaign is designed to paint a company as a labor law violator and bad corporate citizen by exposing EEO, safety, immigration, wage/hour, and workers' compensation issues to stockholders and the general public. A successful corporate campaign will pressure a company into agreeing to card check recognition or into remaining neutral during an organizing campaign.
Catering company Sodexo, Inc., has been the target of a corporate campaign by the Service Employees International Union for several years, and filed suit against the SEIU alleging racketeering and extortion. During discovery, the union was forced to provide a 70-plus page "intimidation manual," which describes the use of community groups to "damage an employer's public image and ties with community leaders and organizations." It recommends going after company officials and managers personally. The union states, "it may be a violation of blackmail and extortion laws to threaten management officials with release of 'dirt' about them if they don't settle a contract. But there is no law against union members who are angry at their employer deciding to uncover and publicize factual information about individual managers." The SEIU recommends "leafleting outside meetings where "[targeted managers] are speaking, their homes, or events sponsored by community organizations they are tied to . . . to make sure their friends, neighbors, and associates are aware of the controversy." In some circumstances, the manual advocates civil disobedience, stating, "Union members sometimes must act in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King and Mohatma Gandi [sic] and disobey laws which are used to enforce injustice against working people."
Corporate campaigns were the subject of a recent hearing by the U.S. House, Education and Workforce Subcommittee on health, employment, labor and pensions. Chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) noted the increase in corporate campaigns and said that the NLRB recently had "taken steps to expand the arsenal of tactics available for corporate campaigns," including upholding union elections tainted by intimidation because the intimidation was originated by "nonparties" and by removing restrictions on union boycotts of neutral employers.