Monday, October 27, 2008

Smithfield RICO Lawsuit Settles

Tar Heel, North CarolinaImage via Wikipedia

From Reuters, a report that one of several pending lawsuits involving companies suing labor unions over their corporate campaign tactics by utilizing RICO statutes has settled.

Smithfield Foods Inc and the Food and Commercial Workers announced earlier today that they had reached a settlement in a lawsuit related to the union's 10-year campaign to organize workers at Smithfield's Tar Heel, North Carolina, pork plant.

Portions of the settlement include:
  • Agreement on holding an election at the plant to determine if employees want to be represented by the union. No date was given for the election. The union had been demanding that Smithfield agreed to a so-called "card check" election in which they would voluntarily recognize the union in a manner similar to that proposed under the Employee Free Choice Act being heavily touted by organized labor and many Democrats.
  • The union will end its campaign of bad publicity against Smithfield. These efforts have included protests, a web site, and even involved Smithfield celebrity spokesperson Paula Deen.
  • Both parties agreed to establish and jointly fund a "Feed the Hungry Program."

Smithfield filed the lawsuit in October 2007. The suit alleged the union had initiated a campaign designed to damage their reputation and business severely enough to force the company to recognize the union as the sole representative of hourly employees at the plant.

The Tar Heel facility has about 5,000 employees.

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