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Teamster Suit Charges False Statement in Strike

The Teamsters Union filed a $715-million libel and slander suit Monday against the Food Employers Council and its member supermarket chains with whom Teamsters locals are involved in a labor dispute.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by Teamsters Joint Council 42, claims that the food chains published a false statement that meat cutters’ unions, also involved in the dispute, had reached an agreement with employers but that the Teamsters food-industry locals caused the meat cutters to repudiate the agreement.

The purpose of the false statement, the suit contends, was to give the defendants a perceived advantage. The result has been to lengthen the strike-lockout, “so that the (Teamsters union members) will have suffered substantial diminution in income.”

The suit asks for general damages of not less than $5 million for the Teamsters Joint Council and each of its 12 member locals--$65 million altogether--against each of the 11 named defendants for a grand total of $715 million.

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The strike and lockout involving the Teamsters and meat cutters enters its third week today. No negotiations have taken place since last week and none are scheduled.

Meanwhile, the writer of an anonymous letter mentioning the Southern California food workers strike threatened to contaminate food products with non-lethal doses of insecticide, and syringes containing a clear liquid were found in at least three stores, authorities said.

Covina Police Lt. Kim Raney said two syringes were found in the tea sections of two Alpha Beta stores there. Another syringe was found in a store in the City of Industry, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

The syringes and liquids were sent to the sheriff’s laboratory for analysis, and Alpha Beta began pulling the targeted food items off shelves as a precaution.

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The letter, received by a radio station and a television station, said roasts, oranges, cheeses and other items were targeted for the injections.

“The longer the FEC (Food Employers Council) delays, the more we will express ourselves this way to the public,” the letter said.


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