A federal appeals court has overturned a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision and ruled that security personnel at the Tar Heel plant of Smithfield Foods did not mistreat employees who worked for a cleaning contractor during a November 2003 protest.
The decision is a blow to the United Food and Commercial Workers International union (UFCW), which had been using the NLRB’s decision to back its claim that security personnel for the Smithfield, VA-based pork processor assaulted and abused employees at the plant.
A Smithfield Foods spokesman said the claims were based on false testimony sponsored by the UFCW. Smithfield Foods reported having videotaped evidence that disproved the union’s claims. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said the NLRB’s failure to consider the videotape was “bordering on the absurd.”
Smithfield says the claims are part of a smear campaign by the UFCW in its ongoing effort to unionize the plant.
Final note: Southern cook and Food Network star Paula Deen also has been targeted in the campaign. Deen, who has an endorsement deal with Smithfield, has been asked to drop her endorsement over alleged poor labor practices.