Justice At Smithfield

In October 2007, Smithfield Foods filed a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act suit against the UFCW.1 The lawsuit was filed as a result of the UFCW’s relentless campaign of harassment against Smithfield. In particular, the UFCW wanted Smithfield to sign a card check/neutrality agreement.2

The UFCW’s demands on Smithfield would have resulted in loss of control over the company’s business operations as well as turned over the bargaining rights of Smithfield employees to an organization without any evidence that the majority of workers supported it.3

Unwilling to submit to union demands, Smithfield became a target of a UFCW corporate campaign of extortion which included product boycotts, negative publicity and interference with Smithfield customers and a Smithfield spokesperson. The campaign ultimately cost Smithfield around $900 million.4

The UFCW attempted to destroy the business relationship between Smithfield and its grocery retail customers. The UFCW’s purpose was to force grocers drop their brands from the shelves. The union also called for a boycott of the company’s products at retailers across the country. In an attempt to disrupt a business relationship with a celebrity spokeswoman, Chef Paula Deen, the UFCW union organized demonstrations and protests at events where Deen would appear on a tour to promote a new book. UFCW also masterminded a plot to reduce the value of Smithfield’s stock price by mailing letters with falsely disparaging information about the company to financial analysts.5 The UFCW has gone so far as to interrupt a 2007 shareholder’s meeting in an attempt to unlawfully extort and inflict damage.6

In October 2008, the UFCW and Smithfield came to an agreement under which Smithfield agreed to hold a union election.7

Through its campaign against Smithfield, the UFCW has demonstrated that it will go to any length to get its way. Tactics bordering on intimidation and extortion are commonplace for an organization that prides itself on promoting “justice.”


1 Chris Flores, “Smithfield Foods, Union Tactics Questioned,” Newport News Daily Press, 10/21/07
2 Complaint, Smithfield Foods, Inc and Smithfield Packaging Company vs. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Civil Action 3:07 CV641, Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 10/17/07
3 Complaint, Smithfield Foods, Inc and Smithfield Packaging Company vs. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Civil Action 3:07 CV641, Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 10/17/07
4 “Smithfield, Union Agree To Election,” Richmond Times Dispatch, 10/28/08
5 Complaint, Smithfield Foods, Inc and Smithfield Packaging Company vs. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Civil Action 3:07 CV641, Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 10/17/07
6 Kristin Collins, “Union, Smithfield OK Vote,” The News & Observer, 10/28/08; Complaint, Smithfield Foods, Inc and Smithfield Packaging Company vs. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Civil Action 3:07 CV641, Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 10/17/07
7 “Smithfield, Union Agree To Election,” Richmond Times Dispatch, 10/28/08