Union Suit on Hog Slaughter Rule Progresses

April 2, 2020
A federal court is allowing a meatpackers’ union complaint about new federal pork inspection rules to go forward.

A federal court has dismissed part of a meatpackers’ union complaint about new federal pork inspection rules, but is allowing another part to go forward.

Locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union sued late last year to stop the USDA from putting into effect new regulations removing limits on line speeds in hog slaughter plants under certain conditions. The regulations also cut the required number of in-plant federal inspectors.

USDA filed for dismissal of the lawsuit, contending that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. Federal judge Joan Ericksen ruled that they lacked standing to challenge the rule regarding the number of federal inspectors, but they did have standing on the issue of line speeds.

“Plaintiffs’ theory of harm hardly requires speculation: slaughterhouse workers, operating in close quarters and using sharp objects to trim meat from carcasses, will face higher rates of injury when working at faster speeds,” Ericksen wrote in her opinion, issued April 1. The ruling will allow the case to proceed.

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