Roughly 16 months ago, a mob of Teamster union militants allegedly terrorized the cast and crew of the cooking-competition cable TV show Top Chef as they filmed an episode for the upcoming season in Milton, a town located in Boston’s greater metropolitan area.
And on September 30, Mark Harrington, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston, and four of his henchmen were indicted on charges of extortion and attempted extortion of the television production. Shelley Murphy and Travis Anderson summarized the criminal case in an October 1 article for the Boston Globe (see the link below to read the whole thing):
The indictment alleges that Local 25 members shouted profanities and racial and homophobic slurs at the show’s crew, slashed the tires on their cars, and threatened to stop production because the show hired non-union drivers.
Local 25’s harassment of Top Chef’‘s cast and crew did not garner media coverage at the time it reportedly occurred. But in August 2014 the Hollywood trade journal Deadline ran a story that gave a sampling of the abusive language and threats Teamster thugs are said to have rained on people arriving at and leaving the set. For example, one Teamster zealot allegedly screamed at program host Padma Lakshmi: “We’re gonna bash that pretty face in, you f*ing whe.” When Jenn Levy, development and production vice president of Bravo TV, which carries Top Chef, tried to make her way past enraged picketers, they reportedly yelled at her, “You bi**h! You sl*t!”
Last month’s indictment adds that the defendants used “actual physical violence” in addition to threats of violence to prevent people from entering the set. Moreover, nine parked vehicles belonging to crew members were found to have had their tires slashed after the defendants were observed by the crew “standing in close proximity” to the vehicles.
For their report, Murphy and Anderson interviewed Robert Bloom, a Boston College law professor and former prosecutor, who noted that, while Teamster bosses and their agents may “have a history” of using ugly and seemingly illegal tactics, the government does not often prosecute the perpetrators. Bloom explained:
“Obviously, unions are important to elections and one way not to get union support is to go after them criminally. . . . The decision to go after a union in a criminal way is obviously a legal decision, but politics enters into the equation.”
In other words, Big Labor outlaws are often able to get off scot-free, because politicians who depend on their forced union dues-funded campaign support to get in office and stay in office, and those politicians’ appointees, often choose not to enforce the law.
Bloom’s point is consistent with decades of experience in jurisdictions across the U.S., and he is to be commended for his bluntness. The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that it will be extraordinarily difficult to deter thuggish union thuggery such as what is alleged to have occurred in Milton, Mass., in June 2014 until compulsory union dues and fees are abolished nationwide.