Judge may halt UFCW's ongoing criminal enterprise

U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne has denied a motion by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and co-defendants to have Smithfield Foods' racketeering lawsuit against them dismissed. After a nearly three-hour hearing Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne denied the union's motion to dismiss the lawsuit without explanation.

Smithfield charges in the Oct. 17 lawsuit that the union and its "co-conspirators" abandoned efforts to win over employees and launched an effort to extort the company's recognition of a union at the plant. The union has worked to destroy the company's image and inflict maximum economic damage, through publication of false statements, frivolous regulatory investigations and communication with Wall Street, Smithfield claims.

Washington lawyer Robert Weinberg, representing the union and 11 co-defendants, argued that Smithfield had not proved union extortion under federal racketeering law as alleged. The alleged conduct also would not fit the definition of an ongoing criminal enterprise, he said.


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