Times sues Teamsters, alleging libel


POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Times Supermarkets is suing the Hawaii Teamsters & Allied Workers Local 996 and its president for libel and defamation.

The suit, filed yesterday in First Circuit Court, alleges that the union published false information about Times and its managers, and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

It is the latest twist in the battle between Times and the Hawaii Teamsters that began when union members held a three-week strike in December over medical premiums for workers on extended leave.

John Quinn, president and CEO of QSI Inc., which does business as Times Supermarket, said the suit is the first step toward clearing its name.

“;Through this lawsuit, we hope to once and for all put an end to this ugly and malicious campaign that the union has been waging against our company and our people,”; he said.

Hawaii Teamsters President Ron Kozuma said he had not seen or received the suit yet, but called it frivolous.

“;During the course of the dispute, we haven't done anything illegal or wrong,”; said Kozuma.

“;It shows what type of company Times is.”;

Times operates 12 supermarkets on Oahu, Fujioka's Wine Times and Shima's Market in Waimanalo and has more than 1,100 employees.

The union, which once represented about 110 meat and fish cutters at Times, also called for a public boycott in January but was later decertified.

Quinn says the union has been engaged in “;a campaign of intimidation”; against Times in retaliation for its decertification.