In May 2014, filming for Season 12 of the hit Bravo reality series Top Chef began in Boston, Massachusetts.  Members of Teamsters Local 25 demanded union staffing on the show.  The production, however, did not need any additional crew members and rejected the Teamster’s demands.  Several members of Local 25 threatened to picket the production if they were not hired, and they followed through on their word.  As a result, five of those Teamsters have been charged with felony counts of conspiracy to extort and attempted extortion.

The September 29, 2015 indictment of John Fidler, Daniel Redmond, Robert Cafarelli, Richard Jeffrey, and Mark Harrington claimed that the Teamsters attempted to forcibly enter a restaurant where the crew was filming in June 2014.  The Teamsters also allegedly threatened physical violence against the Top Chef crew, yelled profanities, and shouted racial and homophobic slurs.  Additionally, nine crew members had their tires slashed.

Over the last few months, the case has been heating up.  Harrington, the secretary-treasurer of Local 25, entered a guilty plea to one count of attempted extortion in September 2016.  On December 16, he was sentenced to two years of probation, six months of which must be served as house arrest.

The four other defendants – Fidler, Ross, Cafarelli, and Redmond – sought to have the charges against them dismissed.  On December 12, 2016, Judge Douglas P. Woodlock denied their request, finding that a jury would be best suited to decide questions of fact regarding the Teamsters’ objectives and intentions.  For now, it appears that the remaining defendants will face trial sometime next year.  The jury will be tasked with determining whether the Teamsters’ violent labor protest should result in criminal convictions.