Feb 18, 2008
Smithfield Foods runs a very worker-unfriendly hog slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, North Carolina. Low paid and extremely dangerous work has led many workers time and again to attempt to unionize. One of the court rulings against Smithfield judged that the company had engaged in “intense and widespread coercion” against its workforce.
The company has now filed a bizarre lawsuit against the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers). The suit basically claims that the union violates the RICO anti-racketeering law if it dares to tell the truth about Smithfield! Its twisted logic claims that organizing protests and boycotts is the same as the Mafia shaking down a storeowner for “protection.”
In an even crazier twist, a Virginia district court actually agreed to let the case go to trial!
A New York City councilwoman labeled the suit for what it is. “It’s a wacky strategy that is aimed at coercing the union into backing off.”
And Smithfield has found a friendly judge to help its plans along. It’s nothing but a measure of how freely the courts today expose their core function: to defend corporate interests by any means possible!
But if the courts wanted to enforce the RICO law, they could begin with Smithfield, which has already been judged to use “intense and widespread coercion” against its workers. It could expand into the oil and gas industry, which schemes every day – every hour! – to extort an outrageous price per gallon from consumers. It could include the banks which schemed to trap workers into subprime mortgages and their “resets.” And what about the racket of “deregulating” energy companies so that they can demand an arm and a leg for heat and electricity, and cut us off if we don’t pay?
No, there’s no shortage of racketeers to bring to trial. But the racketeers are running the government!