Judge: Bashas' can include union threats in suit - East Valley Tribune: News

Judge: Bashas' can include union threats in suit

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Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009 4:33 pm | Updated: 1:17 am, Sun Sep 1, 2013.

Chandler-based Bashas' chalked up the latest point in the ongoing battle between the food workers union and the family-owned supermarket chain.

Chandler-based Bashas' chalked up the latest point in the ongoing battle between the food workers union and the family-owned supermarket chain.

An Arizona Superior Court judge gave the hometown grocer the OK to add alleged verbal threats made during private meetings to a lawsuit Bashas' filed against the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in December 2007, according to Mike Manning of Stinson, Morrison, Hecker, the law firm representing Bashas' in the racketeering and defamation lawsuit.

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Bashas' contends that in meetings with the UCFW, the union threatened to destroy the company by planting expired product on shelves and spreading false information to the public.

Bashas' also said union leaders boasted that they successfully used such dirty tricks against Mega Foods and Southwest Supermarkets, now-defunct specialty grocery chains that, like Bashas', were not unionized.

The judge ruled that the union can't claim meeting confidentiality to hide extortion attempts and allowed the claims to be added to the lawsuit Bashas' filed more than a year ago, Manning said.

In that suit, Bashas' claimed that the union engaged in numerous unethical activities, including calling false reports to government agencies, harassing Bashas' customers and employees and spreading false information about the company.

The union denies all the charges, including the latest ones.

"The new accusations made against the UCFW by Bashas' are, quite simply, false," according to a union statement issued Friday.

"Bashas' position as one of Arizona's biggest corporate empires does not excuse its attempts to silence dissent and debate. The company's attempts to muzzle its critics with an army of lawyers will not deter the UCFW or its allies in our fight to protect Bashas' employees," the statement concludes.

Manning said he expects the lawsuit to go to trial in 2010.

"We look forward to our day in court, when we can clear our good name and defend our 12,000-plus workforce," Bashas' President Mike Proulx said in a statement.

The boost comes at a time when Bashas' could use some good news.

The 77-year-old Chandler-based grocer has been meeting with banks and lenders for the past month, Manning confirmed.

The company already closed a handful of stores this year and recently said it would close more to shore up its troubled finances.

"There is no question these are difficult times, as difficult as any we've seen in the history of the company," Edward Basha, senior vice president of the family business, told the Tribune in May.

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