In a previous post, I wrote about unions using litigation as a scare tactic against employers during union organization campaigns. Smithfield Foods, a North Carolina corporation currently engaged in litigation against the United Food and Commercial Workers union, is pushing back against the union’s (anti-)corporate campaign. A federal court has refused to dismiss Smithfield’s RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act claims against UFCW, saying that Smithfield had a property right (a RICO Act requirement) to recognize the union “without interference by or involvement from the union”:
“The very existence of the Corporate Campaign concept is founded on the recognition that the exercise of that right is of great import and of great consequence,” the court noted.
“Until the Unions prevail in a valid NLRB certified election,” it is this intangible, but no less valuable, property right that is capable of being extorted by the defendants through the use of corporate campaign tactics, the court concluded. As such, the company has stated a cognizable RICO claim.
The unions responded by arguing that their conduct was merely coercive and not extortion. Merely coercive…okay then.