MFD Sued by 'Voice for Working America'
UFCW International Union strikes again!
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which boasts that it is the Voice for Working America, has commenced a lawsuit to silence the MFD. The suit names Kelsey Sigurdur, MFD's webmaster and site owner, and Sharyn Sigurdur, a UFCW Local 1518 member in good standing who works as a part-time grocery store clerk as defendants. Although Kelsey is named in the documents served on Sharyn Sigurdur, he has not yet been served with the suit. Also named in the suit are "John Doe and Jane Doe, persons whose names and identities are presently unknown" to the Voice for Working America. The UFCW claims that Ms. Doe and Mr. Doe have "participated with the identified Defendants in the conduct set out" in its Writ of Summons.
What has prompted this latest UFCW assault on freedom of speech?
Of particular issue appears to be MFD web site's use of the acronym "UFCW" in its URL. According to the UFCW's Statement of Claim:
"The MFD Website is not approved by or affiliated with the UFCW or any local of the UFCW... The Defendants have not obtained the consent or authorization of the UFCW, or any local of the UFCW, to use the UFCW's name or acronym in connection with the MFD Website."
The Voice for Working America also takes offense at MFD's criticism of the UFCW and the labour movement in general:
"The content posted on the MFD Website is critical of the union movement generally and of the UFCW and its affiliated locals, and their executive members and employees.... Further, many of the postings on the MFD Website are defamatory of the UFCW and its affiliated locals, and their executive members and employees."
Finally, the UFCW believes that the MFD web site is likely to be mistaken for a UFCW web site:
"The Defendants' use of the UFCW's name and acronym in connection with the MFD Website... was and is calculated to cause and is likely to cause confusion between the MFD Website and the websites operated by the UFCW and its affiliated locals. In so doing, the Defendants, and each of them, are passing off on the goodwill of the UFCW and its affiliated locals, and are passing off the MFD Website as and for a website operated by the UFCW and its affiliated locals or as being authorized, sanctioned or affiliated with the UFCW and its affiliated locals."
As a remedy, the UFCW is seeking a declaration that MFD's use of the UFCW name or acronym constitutes "passing off" and "an interim, interlocutory and permanent injunction restraining the Defendants, from using the UFCW's name or acronym in connection with the MFD Website or any website without the approval and consent of the UFCW, and in particular, from using the URL - www.ufcw.net. The UFCW is also seeking general, punitive and exemplary damages in an unspecified amount.
Sharyn Sigurdur intends to fight the lawsuit and so does Kelsey, better known as "slek" on the site - if he is ever served with it. He expressed surprise when asked about the UFCW's pursuit of a "passing off" declaration. "Absolute rubbish. There's no way anyone could mistake our site for a UFCW site. We outclass them by miles. The only similarity is the URL." he said. "We have UFCW supporters and UFCW officials that visit the site daily and post in the forums. I highly doubt that these visitors have ever thought that we are an "official" site. It's about as likely as someone mistaking the UFCW-sponsored walmartyrs.com site for an 'official' Wal-Mart site.".
The UFCW has threatened MFD with legal action twice in the past. On the last occasion, in August 2001, Sigurdur asked for specifics as to exactly what material on the site the UFCW considered defamatory. He never received a response. This is the third lawsuit the UFCW has initiated against Canadian union reform activists in the past six months. In addition, three other activists and a Socialist newspaper have recently been threatened with legal action by the UFCW.
We'll bring you more as this story unfolds.