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Teamsters Sell ‘Top Chef’ on Union Work by Calling Producer a ‘C*nt’

As the trial of four Boston Teamsters accused of trying to extort producers of the reality show Top Chef continues, video (seen below) has surfaced of the Teamsters saying some nasty things to producer Ellie Carbajal. The Teamsters maintain that they were engaging in a legal picket line over the production’s use of non-union labor.

While the video is shocking and some people may find it offensive, it isn’t a crime in this country to call someone a”towelhead” or a “cunt.” If these picketers had just said some nasty things, we could all go home. But they’re accused of slashing tires and threatening crew members in an attempt to force the production to hire union members in what the production calls “no-work jobs.”

According to the prosecution, the Teamsters tried to strong-arm the Bravo show into hiring workers for “services not needed, not wanted and that others were already hired to perform.” Carbajal testified that when they saw host Padma Lakshmi, they said, “That’s the pretty one. We want to smash her face in.”

MassLive.com laid out the defense’s argument thusly:

“The defendants went to Milton to get jobs for their out-of-work brothers and sisters in the union,” said Kevin Barron, the attorney for Michael Ross. “That’s what they’re there for. This is real work we’re talking about.”

“The union doesn’t have to take no for an answer,” Barron, Ross’s attorney, added in his opening argument for the jury on Tuesday.

“Unions have a right, people have a right to organize and demand things from employers,” he said. “There is no extortion, no crime, no conspiracy, just five middle-aged truck drivers doing a picket.”

It’s only extortion if the jobs are for work that doesn’t need to be done, he and the other defense attorneys argued.

According to WBUR Boston, NBC exec David O’Connell offered the Teamsters “double” to go away, but the union refused, demanding a legitimate collective bargaining agreement.

It will be up to the jury to decide if this was indeed a legitimate picket line or if the Teamsters actions crossed the line into a shakedown. Regardless of the jury’s findings, however, it’s clear that these men did no favors for themselves or their fellow union members with their actions. While the right to protest is sacrosanct in this country, the racist, sexist and homophobic language these men used while picketing seems unlikely to win support to their side, which is one of the main goals of a successful protest.

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