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"Pack your Knives and Go" Bravo!

Top Chef tries to hire non-union and bribe the Teamsters

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by Kate Hogan on
Aug 14, 2017

A trial that pits Bravo’s “Top Chef” against members of Teamsters Local 25 that began in the spring of 2014. continued Monday morning in Boston, Massachusetts. Four members of Local 25, Robert Cafarelli, John Fidler, Daniel Redmond and Michael Ross, are on trial for allegedly using aggressive tactics against the reality show’s non-union crew. Allegedly. 

In the June of 2014, the Teamsters from Local 25 in Charlestown received word that Bravo’s cooking show “Top Chef” had hired nonunion workers to drive their production vehicles, a job usually done by Teamsters. The Teamsters then warned the producers of Top Chef that they would do what any good union would do; throw up a picket line if they did not hire union drivers.

The producers decided to proceed with the non-union crew, and the Teamsters followed through with their promise. While Top Chef filmed inside of Steele & Rye, a restaurant in Milton, Massachusetts, Teamsters began to picket outside, exercising their right to free speech and assembly. This is when the alleged harassment took place. Prosecutors claim that Teamsters attempted to block a vehicle carrying Top Chef host Padma Lakshi from entering the Steele & Rye restaurant’s driveway. However, the Teamsters say that they were there to win a union contract and to get real jobs for their union brothers and sisters. Their statement is supported by the fact that a Bravo executive statement says that the union rejected Bravo’s offer to “pay the Teamsters double” to just go away and leave the set. Bravo’s bribe backfired.

Prosecutors claim that four Teamsters, Robert Cafarelli, John Fidler, Daniel Redmond and Michael Ross, verbally harassed and “chest-bumped” crew members of the Bravo series. Prosecutors also allege that a Teamster attempted to block a vehicle carrying Lakshmi from entering Steele & Rye’s driveway, telling the celebrity host something along the lines of, “We’re going to bash your pretty little face in.” Bullshit.

“This is the life of America. People have a right to organize and demand things from employers,” said Kevin Barron, Ross’s lawyer. “There was no extortion, no crime, no conspiracy. . . . Just five middle-aged truck drivers doing a picket.”

The Teamsters were there to protect our right to organize. Labor unions use picket lines and rallies as a way to stand up to management and corporate and tell their side of the story. 

Pictured: Padma Lakshmi 

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