Lawsuit accuses largest US meat producers of wage fixing

Nov 16, 2022, 2:23 PM | Updated: Nov 17, 2022, 2:31 am
FILE - Ground Beef is on display in a market in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. A class-actio...

FILE - Ground Beef is on display in a market in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. A class-action federal lawsuit is accusing 11 of the United States' largest beef and pork producers of conspiring to depress wages and benefits for its workers. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Denver last week. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

DENVER (AP) — Three meat plant workers have filed a federal lawsuit accusing 11 of the United States’ largest beef and pork producers of conspiring to depress wages and benefits.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Denver on Friday, seeks class-action status and alleges the producers have worked together since at least 2014 to keep workers’ compensation lower than the market would allow, violating the Sherman Antitrust Act.

It was brought by two meat plant workers from Iowa and one from Georgia but seeks to represent hundreds of thousands of other people who have worked in jobs from slaughtering to production at the companies’ collective 140 plants. Together the plants produce about 80% of the red meat sold to U.S. consumers, according to the lawsuit.

The companies are JBS USA Food Company, Cargill Inc., Hormel Foods Corp., American Foods Group LLC, Triumph Foods LLC, Seaboard Foods LLC, National Beef Packing Co. LLC, Iowa Premium LLC, Smithfield Foods Inc., Agri Beef Co. and Perdue Farms Inc., along with some subsidiaries.

Cargill denied any wrongdoing.

“While we cannot comment with specificity during the pendency of litigation, Cargill sets compensation independently to ensure that it pays fair and competitive wages to employees in each of the company’s plants,” company spokesman Daniel Sullivan said.

Perdue Farms spokesperson Andrea Staub declined to comment, saying the company does not discuss pending lawsuits. Smithfield spokesperson Jim Monroe said the company has not had a chance to review the allegations and had no comment at this time. Representatives of the other companies did not immediately return emails and telephone messages seeking comment Wednesday.

Two consulting companies that allegedly helped the meat producers exchange compensation information are also named as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed by lawyers from Hagens Berman.

“Our firm has secured $195 million in the poultry processing industry for the same antitrust behavior. The meat industry’s gravy train ends here,” the law firm’s managing partner, Steve Berman, said in an announcement of the lawsuit on Wednesday.

The lawsuit alleges that the meat producers had secret meetings to discuss wages and communicated about them surreptitiously to avoid having any written records of the conversations.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Juul products are displayed at a smoke shop in New York, on Dec. 20, 2018. Embattled vaping ...
Associated Press

Juul reaches settlements covering more than 5,000 cases

Juul Labs has reached settlements covering more than 5,000 cases brought by about 10,000 plaintiffs related to its vaping products. Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Juul said that it has secured an equity investment to fund it. Buffeted by lawsuits, Juul announced hundreds of layoffs last month and bankruptcy appeared increasingly […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Editorial Roundup: United States

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad: Dec. 5 The Washington Post on microchips, the U.S. and the future When President Biden visits a microchip factory under construction in Arizona, it might look like a political victory lap: The factory will bring $12 billion and thousands of jobs to an important swing […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Local residents gather near a generator to charge their mobile devices in an area controlled...
Associated Press

Donors race to get generators, other aid to hard-hit Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — When Russian forces launched a military campaign against infrastructure in Ukraine nearly two months ago, they opened a front that carried the war along power lines, water mains and heating systems to homes, schools, offices and churches. The government in Kyiv and the Western countries that have backed it with billions […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Co-buying a house: How platonic partners make it work

Seven years ago, Phil Levin and his girlfriend, Kristen Berman, pondered a common question: Should we move in together? Levin assumed they’d take a predictable path and find a more affordable apartment outside of pricey San Francisco. But Berman, a behavioral scientist, shared her reservations about leaving their friend network – and some facts to […]
6 hours ago
FILE -  Visitors passing an advertisement for the video game 'Call of Duty' at the Gamescom fair fo...
Associated Press

Microsoft strikes 10-year deal with Nintendo on Call of Duty

LONDON (AP) — Microsoft said Wednesday that it struck a deal to make the hit video game Call of Duty available on Nintendo for 10 years when its $69 billion purchase of game maker Activision Blizzard goes through — an apparent attempt to fend off objections from rival Sony. The blockbuster merger is facing close […]
6 hours ago
This photo provided by Toyota shows the Lexus RX 350, a midsize luxury SUV that has been fully rede...
Associated Press

Edmunds: 2023 Lexus RX 350 versus 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLE

The Lexus RX 350 has consistently been one of the best-selling midsize SUVs and a leading model for the Lexus brand. So when a new RX is released, there’s understandably a lot of interest from SUV shoppers. The redesigned 2023 RX 350 gets a new engine, improved technology and a more luxurious interior. But is […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Lawsuit accuses largest US meat producers of wage fixing