Watch Video of Teamsters Harassing the Staff of Top Chef
Remember the case of Boston Teamsters accused of extorting the staff of Bravo TV show Top Chef to hire union workers? The trial has finally begun. And that means we’re getting access to all kinds of new details. We have learned, for example, that City Hall staffer Ken Brissette, who was also indicted for his role in allegedly pressuring Boston Calling to hire union stagehands, was allegedly involved in pressuring the show to hire union or risk losing permits.
It also means a video of the now-infamous exchange between the Teamsters and the staff has become a public record. And, hoo boy, is it something.
In a clip captured on a cellphone by the Top Chef crew that lasts less than a minute, members of the Teamsters Local 25—one of whom keeps clapping his fist into his palm—can be seen hurling insults at Top Chef staff. Many of the insults were reportedly hurled at star Padma Lakshmi, who a prosecutor later said was “paralyzed with fear” after Teamster John Fidler allegedly threatened to “smash [her] pretty little face.”
In the clip, the now-defendant Daniel Redmond utters the words “f—ing c—” and “towel head.”
The case right now hinges on whether the actions of the Teamsters amounted to illegal intimidation, or whether it was simply, as the Teamsters have argued, an exercise of free speech within their right to organize for better wages and protest the hiring of non-union labor.
Ellie Carbajal, a producer, has testified that the exchange left her shaken. “I was scared,” she said, according to the Herald. “I couldn’t believe they were doing this. These were grown men and they were saying such awful things to me and the crew.” Location scout Derek Cunningham says interactions with the Teamsters made him so nervous he slept with a kitchen knife under his pillow for safety.
A lawyer for Redmond, meanwhile, has also argued that the video shows that the Top Chef producer Erica Ross was trying to “provoke” the Teamsters by mocking them, a charge Ross denies.
Here’s what the video shows:
The video begins as the interaction is already in progress.
“Your mama would be so proud,” Carbajal says to Redmond.
“Yeah,” he replies. “At least she knows I’m not a scab like you. You f—ing towel head.”
“Excuse me?” asks Ross.
“You heard me, c—,” he says.
Later, addressing the cell phone camera Redmond says, “Well that’s pretty intimidating,” adding, for good measure, “f—ing c—,” to which Ross replies, “Is that why you’re shaking?”
Then Robert Cafarelli, the one doing the fist-clapping, chimes in. “I’m not shaking,” he says into the camera. “I don’t have to call you a name. You already know what you are.”
Then a sunglasses-wearing Mark Harrington, turning the tables on Top Chef, pulls out his smartphone and starts filming them.
“Two can play at that game,” Harrington says, adding, “Smile, you’re in a movie. You’re finally in a movie.”
Testimony in the trial, which has drawn national attention, continues Thursday.