RICHMOND, Va. – United Food and Commercial Works International told a federal judge it did nothing wrong in peacefully applying economic pressure while trying to organize workers at a Smithfield Foods slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, N.C.

The company’s attorney disagreed, reportedly arguing that the union demanded a sham election and committed extortion by insisting Smithfield give up its right to urge workers to vote against representation by the union.

The Smithfield, Va.-based meat company claims the union and other defendants violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, which was originally designed to fight organized crime, in its efforts to unionize Smithfield's slaughterhouse.

U.S. District Judge Robert Payne will be ruling on whether or not the company’s lawsuit can go forward.

The central issue in Monday's hearing was whether the union really advocated a bogus election or whether the idea was never taken seriously after being mentioned by a union official who had no real bargaining authority.


Source: Associated Press