Has Boston Mayoral Appointee Been Doing Union Bosses’ Dirty Work For Them?

A federal indictment issued last fall charges Boston Teamster bosses and militants with perpetrating an extortion scheme against a popular cable television show. Soon after the indictment came down it became clear that Ken Brissette (pictured), Big Labor Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s “director of tourism, sports, and entertainment,” had phoned a hotel and restaurant that were planning to host the program’s shoot to “inform them” that they would be harassed if they didn’t back out. Image: Wendy Maeda/Boston Globe

Two years ago next month, a mob of Teamster union militants allegedly terrorized the cast and crew of the cooking-competition cable TV show Top Chef as they filmed an episode in Milton, a town located in Boston’s greater metropolitan area.

And late last September, Mark Harrington, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston, and four of his henchmen were indicted on charges of extortion and attempted extortion of the television production. As an October 2 Boston Globe account explained, Teamster union militants picketing the shoot at a restaurant in Milton

are accused of yelling profanities, hurling racial and homophobic slurs, slashing tires, and making “threats of physical violence to try and prevent people from entering the set.”

Local 25 zealots’ harassment of Top Chef’‘s cast and crew did not garner media coverage at the time it reportedly occurred. But in August 2014 the Hollywood trade journal Deadline ran a story that gave a sampling of the abusive language and threats Teamster thugs are said to have rained on people arriving at and leaving the set.

For example, one Teamster zealot allegedly screamed at program host Padma Lakshmi: “We’re gonna bash that pretty face in, you f*ing wre.” When Jenn Levy, development and production vice president of Bravo TV, which carries Top Chef, tried to make her way past enraged picketers, they reportedly yelled at her, “You bi**h! You sl*t!”

Last fall’s indictment adds that the defendants used “actual physical violence” in addition to threats of violence to prevent people from entering the set.  Moreover, nine parked vehicles belonging to crew members were found to have had their tires slashed after the defendants were observed by the crew “standing in close proximity” to the vehicles.

The indictment also notes that an unnamed “representative from the City of Boston”  called a hotel and restaurant that were set to participate in Top Chef‘s Boston shoot in advance of the filming “to inform” them that they would be harassed by a Teamster mob if they didn’t back out.

In response to the calls from the city “representative,” later identified as Ken Brissette, an appointee of Big Labor Mayor Martin Walsh, the hotel and the restaurant owners informed the Top Chef production company it was no longer welcome. However, the shoot went ahead at another location.

Last month, the Globe reported that federal investigators “have issued subpoenas to City Hall staffers” as part of their ongoing probe into the alleged Teamster extortion and harassment of the Top Chef cast and crew.

The Globe has also reported that federal authorities are looking into whether Brissette, the city’s director of tourism, sports, and entertainment, “warned the Boston Calling music festival that it could face problems if it did not hire union members.”  (Boston Calling’s three-day music festival, which occurs twice year, is next scheduled to run late this month.)

The Walsh Administration has tried to brush aside Brissette’s contacts with Top Chef ‘s contractors as a “friendly heads up,” rather than facilitation of a Teamster extortion scheme. But now the mayor and his spokespeople are refusing to confirm or deny that City Hall staffers have been subpoenaed. (See the news story linked below for more information.)

For decades, Big Labor bosses and their militant followers have routinely gotten away with making extortionate threats and committing vandalism and violence as union “organizing” tactics.  And one important reason why is that politicians who depend on union bosses’ forced dues-funded campaign support to get and stay in office, and those politicians’ appointees, often choose not to enforce the law in such cases.

It is less common for public officials actually to assist Big Labor goons as they bully union-free employees and employers, and others who do business with them. But if published reports are correct, this is evidently what Boston’s mayorally-appointed “minister of fund,” as Brissette is sometimes called, has been doing.

This unfolding Beantown scandal illustrates just how difficult it will be to deter union thuggery across America until the authorizations for compulsory union dues and fees that are currently in federal law have been revoked.

Walsh administration refuses to divulge if it has received federal …