Indianapolis BSC Becomes Target Of SEIU Corporate Campaign
- Bego Begins His Career In The Building Service Industry
- EMS Endures 'Death By A Thousand Cuts,' Other Union Tactics
- Dave Bego Urges SEIU To 'Fish Or Cut Bait'
- The Devil At My Doorstep: Bego Pens Memoir About His 'Three-Year-War'
In 2006, Dave Bego could have been considered a veteran of the contract cleaning industry. As president of The EMS Group he was also a success story, having built his Indianapolis company from the ground up, to becoming one of the largest, privately-owned, contract building service firms in the country. Bego was, as he says, living The American Dream.
But by the end of the year, Bego’s dream was threatened, putting his reputation and business on the line. That winter, Bego was contacted by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a powerful and politically connected labor union with more than 2 million members.
The reason? They wanted Bego to sign a Neutrality Agreement, a patchwork document designed, essentially, to eliminate a secret ballot election and prevent employers from speaking to their employees about unionization during the recruitment process. Further, the document allowed the SEIU to tally participation by getting employees to simply sign their name on a union card, also known as “card check.” Once a majority of the city’s cleaning space was represented, employers would have no choice but to meet the terms of the union.
Bego felt like the process trumped his employees’ rights, and mimicked a controversial piece of legislation known as the Employee Free Choice Act, with which he was deeply against for the same reasons.
The SEIU claimed it wanted to unionize workers to increase wages, provide benefits and ensure job security for hardworking employees. Bego assured organizers that EMS employees already had those measures in place. If his employees did in fact want to unionize they were free to vote in a secret ballot election. But, the SEIU never petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to hold the contest.
After a friendly but tense meeting with SEIU’s Midwest president, Bego laid his groundwork for his refusal and respectfully declined the SEIU’s offer. He thought that would be the end of the story, but it was only the first chapter.
Bego became a target of a corporate campaign, otherwise known as compulsory unionism, a tactic used by the SEIU to pressure-cook employers until they unionize.
What transpired over the next three years would become a corporate version of David and Goliath, says Bego, and would cost the BSC more than $1 million in legal fees.
Bego Begins His Career In The Building Service Industry
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