Plant Safety / Proteins

Meat Workers’ Union Sues Over Hog Rule

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Oct 07, 2019

A union representing meat industry workers has sued the USDA over its new rules allowing faster processing in pork plants, alleging that they put workers and consumers at risk.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) filed the lawsuit Oct. 7 in federal court in Minnesota. The suit is a reaction to new USDA rules lifting the limit of 1,106 hogs processed per hour, as long as a plant does adequate safety monitoring.

The lawsuit alleges that the rules endanger workers by increasing their chances of injuries through repetitive motion and accidents. It also charges that the rule “reduces the number of government-employed ‘online’ safety inspectors on the lines by forty percent, instead allowing the plants to use their own employees – with no required training – to monitor compliance with health and safety standards.”

The suit asks the court to set aside the rule and enjoin the USDA from allowing the higher line speeds.

“The safety of America’s food and workers is not for sale, and this lawsuit seeks to ensure this dangerous rule is set aside and these companies are held accountable,” Marc Perrone, president of UFCW International, said in a statement.