Smithfield sues union | North Carolina | Indy Week
Pin It

Smithfield sues union 

click to enlarge followup.jpg

Smithfield Foods filed a $6 million civil racketeering suit against the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, which has been trying to organize workers at the company's hog slaughter plant in Tar Heel.

RICO suits, as they're known, are generally used to prosecute organized crime.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia, alleges UFCW has engaged in "extortionate and unlawful conduct," including letters, press releases and statements sent to the media and financial analysts about the company's alleged mistreatment of workers. "The endless stream of press releases is designed to have a cumulative effect on the public," the suit says.

However, the Center for Union Facts, an anti-union group working on behalf of many U.S. corporations including Smithfield, paid for dozens of television ads, which ran this year on local stations, denigrating the UFCW.

The suit also extends the unlawful conduct to include filing "frivolous" labor safety complaints; UFCW demonstrations at annual shareholders' meetings; organized boycotts of groceries carrying Smithfield products; and "interference with Smithfield's application for a water permit at its Tar Heel Plant." In the latter case, the company noted that organizer Libby Manly stated at a public hearing the permit "would do tremendous damage to Smithfield workers and the environment." The N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources granted Smithfield the permit. As a company, Smithfield's environmental record is less than stellar: Its Virginia operations was fined $12.6 million by the Environmental Protection Agency for violating the Clean Water Act.

Gene Bruskin, UFCW campaign director, said the union's lawyers are studying the suit, which was filed a day after talks failed between UFCW and the company over procedures for union elections. Bruskin noted that if Smithfield wins, the case could set a dangerous precedent. "This essentially says any citizen group—left-wing, right-wing or in the middle—has no right to protest."

The suit claims the UFCW's actions have had "a lasting and irreparable effect on Smithfield," costing the world's largest hog producer "millions of dollars in lost or reduced business, contracts and promotional and ad opportunities."

According to Smithfield investor information, sales for fiscal year 2007 were $11.9 billion, up $500,000 from the previous year; net income dipped $6 billion. Financial observers have attributed the downturn in its stock prices to high feed costs and expansion of the hog herd.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in North Carolina



Twitter Activity

Comments

Our local law enforcement aren't doing anything about illegal immigration. If anything they are willfully ignoring it at the benefit …

by Timothy Oswald on A New Study Shows That Turning Local Cops Into Immigration Enforcers Hasn’t Made N.C. Communities Safer (North Carolina)

Another thing. Hog and Poultry producers along with power providers shouldn't be allowed to build right on our river systems. …

by Timothy Oswald on Will a Raleigh Jury’s $50 Million Verdict Against Murphy-Brown LLC Force Big Pork to Clean Up Its Act? (North Carolina)

Most Recent Comments

Our local law enforcement aren't doing anything about illegal immigration. If anything they are willfully ignoring it at the benefit …

by Timothy Oswald on A New Study Shows That Turning Local Cops Into Immigration Enforcers Hasn’t Made N.C. Communities Safer (North Carolina)

Another thing. Hog and Poultry producers along with power providers shouldn't be allowed to build right on our river systems. …

by Timothy Oswald on Will a Raleigh Jury’s $50 Million Verdict Against Murphy-Brown LLC Force Big Pork to Clean Up Its Act? (North Carolina)

Humans rely on clean air and water.. to exist, as in LIVE, . . - never to be dismissed as …

by goldenruler1 on The First of the Murphy-Brown Hog-Farm Nuisance Trials Began in Raleigh This Week (North Carolina)

Hard to believe this company and it's lawyers are claiming lawsuits against them are soley for monetary gain. Ridiculous as …

by Barbara McKinney on The First of the Murphy-Brown Hog-Farm Nuisance Trials Began in Raleigh This Week (North Carolina)

It isn't just the smell. That absolutely assaults your senses but the horrific cruelty should too. These animals are so …

by Sylvia Badger on Will a Raleigh Jury’s $50 Million Verdict Against Murphy-Brown LLC Force Big Pork to Clean Up Its Act? (North Carolina)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation