You may recall that back in September we looked at the case of Professional Janitorial Services of Houston (PJS) and a lawsuit they prevailed in against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The union had engaged in a public smear campaign attempting to shut PJS down because the company refused to allow them to force a secret ballot seeking to unionize the shop. A jury sided with PJS and the SEIU was smacked with a judgment in excess of seven million dollars.
Such things are never settled in one go and the union immediately appealed on two fronts. First, they wanted a new trial. Failing that, they wanted a fresh look at the amount of the judgment because they claimed (to the amazement of all) that they couldn’t afford to pay the damages. That case hit a brick wall last week when a judge ruled that not only would there be no new trial, but that the union had to turn over a decade’s worth of financial records to PJS to prove that they somehow couldn’t pay the bill. The company’s CEO, Brent Southwell, issued the following statement on the outcome.
Harris County District Court Judge Erin Lunceford ruled last week that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has no grounds to request a retrial after she ordered the union to pay Professional Janitorial Services Houston (PJS Houston) $7.8 million. Judge Lunceford also ordered the SEIU to turn over nearly 10 years of financial records and other information before the court determines whether PJS can seize the union’s assets.
“Since the SEIU claims it has insufficient funds to pay for the damage it caused my company, I look forward to combing through its finances to find every hidden dollar,” stated PJS Houston founder and CEO Brent Southwell, a trained accountant. “You cannot pay 10 lawyers to try to stop me from beating you in a courtroom and then claim you have no money.”
As to the first of the union’s requests, that one seemed ill fated from the beginning. The union offered no cogent argument as to why the results of the trial should be in question. As to the question of being able to afford to pay the plaintiff… c’mon, man. We’re talking bout the SEIU. They were the 22nd largest contributor to elections in 2016 with well over $13M in contributions. They are leaching off the paychecks of more than 1.5 million workers each and every day. And doesn’t an organization of that size carry insurance to cover themselves in the event of a judgment going against them?
Far more likely is the idea that they simply don’t want any outsiders poking around in their financial records. Every time the members of these unions find out how much of their dues is being handed out to politicians and lobbyists rather than going to their own benefit the SEIU takes a hit in popularity. In this case they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar trying to bust out a private company like some sort of mafia crackdown. Now they need to pay up and I doubt anyone will be crying for them overly much.
The effects of their own policies have been eroding the organization for years now. In an interview conducted early this year, the President of the SEIU discussed their continued decline in membership and blamed it on the perception that the union had, “become too self-interested and disregarding the interests of workers who aren’t members of a union.” The decline has been steep, too. You’ll recall that I previously mentioned that figure of 1.5 million members and $13M in political contributions this year. Compare that to their performance in the last midterms only two years earlier, when they boasted 2.1 million members and spent $68.3M on campaigns.
You might think they’d have learned a lesson by now, but their activities in attacking PJS would indicate that they haven’t. Their own president admits they need to show more concern for the priorities on non-union workers, but at the same time they’re trying to bust out and shut down non-union shops. To say that they brought this result on themselves would be nothing more than restating the obvious.