Friday, May 12, 2006

Smithfield Loses Appeal of Union Busting Thuggery

United Food & Comm'l Workers v. Nat'l Labor Relations Board, 2006 App. LEXIS 11190 (D.C. Cir. May 5, 2006)

It was widely reported that the D.C. Circuit handed down a decision Monday which should get the attention, however briefly, of thugs and union busters in the meat packing industry.

In 1992 Smithfield established a processing facility in North Carolina that soon became the focus of organizing efforts by the UFCW. The UFCW lost elections in 1994 and 1997. In actions that would have made Carnegie and Frick proud, Smithfield threatened to fire employees who voted for organizing, freeze wages and ultimately to close the facility. Smithfield also threatened to discipline employees, it grilled suspected pro union employees, it confiscated recruiting materials and spied on the workers with videocameras.

Complaints were filed with the NLRB and a voluminous decision was released, the opinions consisting of nearly 400 pages of record, which was the subject of the instant appeal

The Court of appeals found that Smithfield had threatened workers, ordered one to stamp hogs with a "vote No" stamp, unlawfully discharged several employees for union activities, and violated its own employee disciplinary process in so doing.

In an interesting sidelight, three former Smithfield attorneys intervened, in an attempt to upset the NLRB's decision to investigate them for potentially suborning perjury with respect to the testimony of a witness and the procurement of a potentially spurious affidavit.

Think about all that the next time you're in the grocery looking for some chops to toss on the barbecue-there's a lot more going on than happy farmers and full cases at the meat counter.


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