(KMOV) – A man filed suit after he was allegedly stalked and threatened by a local union.
Employees of Raineri Construction said they have been threatened “mafia style” in an attempt to extort money from them.
The construction company has filed suit against the Local Carpenter’s District Council under the Federal RICO Act, a law that was created to make it easier to prosecute the mafia.
The Carpenters Union denies the allegations and says it has the right to protest against a company that doesn’t always meet the union standards for pay and benefits.
But construction company executive Tony Raineri said the union went too far by following him and his wife and making threats. Raineri said he feared for his life at times.
Even on the coldest days of the year, the Carpenters Union is on the sidewalk in front of Raineri Construction, hoping the protest shames him into hiring only union carpenters.
“For me it wasn’t such a big deal until they started making threats of bodily harm, started following me and my wife to our home, started following my employees to their homes,” said Raineri.
He said the union is using "Mafia-style" tactics to pressure him into working with only union carpenters.
He particularly remembers one incident in Clayton.
“The guy basically got out of his car and said to watch my back and that if I didn’t sign a contract with the Carpenter’s District Council I wouldn’t be around much longer. He just made threats that made me feel for my life, so I considered that a threat,” said Raineri.
After what he calls repeated threats over a year-long period, Raineri sued the union and its officers in December 2012 under the federal RICO Act.
In the lawsuit, Raineri documents repeated alleged threats to him, his employees and his clients. The suit claims the union slandered him by falsely claiming he pays below union wages and no benefits, which he insists isn’t true.
He also alleges the union tried to pressure him into signing an agreement with the Carpenters District Council that forces him to hire only union carpenters and pay into the union health and retirement system.
“I don’t feel like joining their club is a good business decision for myself, so we choose not to participate,” said Raineri.
The union has also protested against the St. Louis City Housing Authority, Washington University and others who hired Raineri.
The City Housing authority responded to the union in aletter, saying they are “...extremely disappointed in your organization’s decision to take action against SLHA without knowing the requirements of the contract. It is clear from this action that your organization is more interested in a public display than in understanding the truth.”
“If we could get the Carpenters District Council to stop the ridiculous childish behavior we’d be happy to work with them again,” said Raineri.
During a brief conversation on the phone, a union representative told News 4’s Craig Cheatham that no one acting on behalf of the Carpenters Union ever threatened, harassed or stalked Raineri, his employees or their clients.
A judge dismissed the RICO part of the case, but other counts dealing with conspiracy, damage to his business and slander remain.
Raineri is asking for damages plus an end to what he calls the reckless behavior and lies of the union.