UFCW lawyers prep RICO lawsuit defense

On Oct. 15, Smithfield management thumbed its nose at the Food and Commercial Workers union by calling an end to negotiations. The UFCW has been struggling for more than a decade to represent the 5,500 workers at Smithfield’s Tar Heel, N.C., plant, the largest pork processing facility in the world.

Two days later, Smithfield pulled another punch and sued the union under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which was originally passed to stop organized crime syndicates. The suit alleges that UFCW’s efforts to organize public support for the Tar Heel workers constitute attempted extortion.

As a union statement notes: “Clearly, the lawsuit is meant to be a distraction from the ongoing health and safety issues at the plant, and the latest roadblock to finding a long-term solution for workers who have been struggling for years to bring union representation into the plant. The UFCW intends to vigorously fight these baseless allegations.” (Oct. 22) For more about this struggle, go to www.smithfieldjustice.org.


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