Five members of a Teamsters local were indicted today on federal extortion charges, accused of “intimidating the staff and crew of ‘Top Chef’ while it was filmed in Boston last year,” the AP reports.
“The indictment says members of Teamsters Local 25 demanded that union members be hired as drivers. When the producer for the reality TV show said they had already hired their employees, the Teamsters warned they would follow the crew and picket, prompting the Omni Parker House in Boston to cancel filming there,” the story reports.
The AP adds: “The Teamsters also are accused of yelling profanities and racial and homophobic slurs at host Padma Lakshmi and the crew while they filmed at Steel & Rye, a restaurant in the Boston suburb of Milton.”
The charges include conspiracy to extort and attempted extortion. The union members allegedly tried to secure no-work jobs for their fellow Teamsters.
The report quotes U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz sying the men’s actions were “not union organizing, but criminal extortion.”
Ortiz adds: “In the course of this alleged conspiracy, they managed to chase a legitimate business out of the City of Boston and then harassed the cast and crew when they set up shop in Milton.”
Attorney Rob Goldstein, who represents one of the accused union members, Mark Harrington, denied that his client is guilty, saying: “His only conduct was to exercise his lawful right to protest a company that was not maintaining area standards of wages and benefits.”