Smithfield files racketeering lawsuit against union
Smithfield Foods Inc. filed a civil racketeering lawsuit against the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which for more than a decade has waged a campaign to organize workers at the company''s massive hog slaughterhouse in rural North Carolina, according to the Associated Press. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Richmond, Va., accuses the union of engaging in a public smear campaign that included seeking frivolous regulatory investigations and providing false statement to analysts aimed at depressing the company''s stock price. The lawsuit was filed two days after the Smithfield, Va.-based company called off talks aimed at holding an organizing election at the plant, which the union has tried to organize since it opened in 1992. The talks broke down over whether Smithfield''s complaint that the union wanted to right to lobby workers, but refused to allow the company to do the same. In rejecting the demand, the union cited Smithfield''s history of harassing union supporters during organizing elections held in 1993 and 1997. A federal appeals court ruled in 2006 that Smithfield improperly influenced the elections. Earlier this year, Smithfield reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board and agreed to pay $1.1 million in back wages, plus interest, to employees that the company fired during union elections.