Advocates for Labor and Progressive Institutions

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Court grants summary judgment to SEIU unions, holding that unions’ corporate social responsibility campaign did not violate RICO

October 28, 2019

The employer tactic of using the federal RICO statute and its treble-damages provisions to chill robust union-sponsored corporate social responsibility campaigns was dealt a major blow when the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey threw out the claims of a chain of nursing homes against SEIU and two of its locals.

The plaintiffs had alleged that the unions’ pursuit of collective bargaining and organizing goals by means of a public advertising and internet campaign critical of the plaintiffs’ business and labor practices qualified as RICO predicate acts of extortion and mail or wire fraud. On summary judgment, the Court rejected those claims. The Court concluded that “extortion” does not encompass peaceful union advocacy campaigns designed to apply economic pressure on an employer to improve its working conditions or to cease opposition to union organizing efforts. The Court further concluded that the plaintiffs lacked evidence to support their allegations that the unions’ advertisements and other public communications were fraudulent. Bredhoff & Kaiser represented the defendant unions throughout the seven-year course of the litigation. Care One Mgmt., LLC v. United Healthcare Workers East, SEIU 1199, Civ No. 12-6371 (SDW) (MAH), 2019 WL 5541410 (D.N.J. Oct. 28, 2019).