Yesterday, a corroborated report from an anonymous Top Chef crew member alleged that members of the local Teamsters union who had been shut out of filming the show’s upcoming Boston season attacked Padma Lakshmi and production personnel. The incidents reportedly involved sexist, racist, and homophobic slurs, a death threat, and the slashing of no fewer than 14 tires on crew vehicles. There has been no official statement from Bravo, but political candidates backed by Teamsters Local 25 are already putting daylight between themselves and the group, while the union itself has called the report "fiction at best."
Here’s their full statement:
Statement from Teamsters Local 25 President, Sean M. O’Brien
“Teamsters Local 25 for the last eight years has been a vital part in the success of the film industry in Massachusetts. We continue to support the industry and all the jobs that are created directly and indirectly. The Top Chef situation as it is written is fiction at best. As a union, we have the right to lawfully demonstrate and protest the filming of non-union non-Massachusetts workers. We have fought long and hard to protect our members, their livelihoods and will continue to do so. If the allegations were true Milton Police would have taken appropriate action. Again, Teamsters Local 25 will continue to be vigilant and hold employers accountable when it comes to making sure area standards are upheld, but more importantly to respect the workers that are responsible for their success and prosperity.” - Sean M. O’Brien, president of Teamsters Local 25
Because it’s election season, the incident has become a campaign issue. The state GOP is working especially hard to tie Democrat Martha Coakley, probably the blue state’s next governor, and her $14,999 Local 25 donation to the union’s "despicable behavior towards women and towards the gay community." In a statement, Coakley’s campaign responded that the actions "are completely inappropriate" and says they’ve "contacted the union in question to express our concerns."