The union behind a smear campaign against family-owned grocery chain Bashas' could feel the full force of the law after a court denied its request to dismiss the lawsuit against it.
Bashas' has accused the United Food & Commercial Workers' union, its local affiliate, and several of its agents of defamation, intentional interference with business operations, extortion and trespass.
Specifically, it claims the union has pressured the company's management into signing a contract that would eliminate the right of Bashas' employees to vote, by secret ballot, whether or not they want a union.
UFCW requested that the lawsuit be dismissed but Superior Court of Arizona Judge Douglas Rayes has denied the request.
"This ruling is a positive first step towards clearing our company's good name," said Mike Proulx, Bashas' president and COO. "Through this lawsuit, we hope to once and for all put an end to the ugly and malicious lies that the UFCW has spread about our company and our members (employees) through its slick, negative campaigning."
The family business claims UFCW's smear campaign included stunts such as accusing the company of selling expired products then planting expired products on store shelves, arranging "town-hall-style" meetings to publicly attack Bashas', and making personal home visits to encourage shoppers to boycott Bashas' stores.
"The UFCW has said that it intends to either extort Bashas' into surrendering to its campaign or destroy Bashas' as a viable business," said Mike Manning, the attorney representing Bashas' in this lawsuit. "This ruling allows Bashas' the right to protect itself from the UFCW's extortion."
Bashas', which was founded more than 76 years ago by brothers Ike and Eddie Basha Sr, owns and operates more than 160 grocery stores in Arizona, California and New Mexico.
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