Lawsuit accuses largest US meat producers of wage fixing

Nov 15, 2022, 11:23 PM | Updated: Nov 16, 2022, 4:39 pm
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

President Joe Biden listens as French President Emmanuel Macron speaks before a toast during a Stat...
Associated Press

Germany welcomes Biden comments in trade dispute

BERLIN (AP) — Germany on Friday welcomed President Joe Biden’s apparent willingness to discuss tweaking U.S. legislation that European leaders say unfairly discriminates against their industries. Biden acknowledged during a visit to Washington by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday that there were “glitches” in the Inflation Reduction Act, which favors American-made climate technology for […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Parcels with animals’ eyes sent to Ukrainian embassies

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian embassies and consulates in six European countries have received packages containing animals’ eyes in recent days, a Ukrainian official said Friday. Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko wrote on Facebook that the “bloody parcels” were received by the Ukrainian embasses in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia and Italy, as well as […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

US cancels trip by LGBTQ envoy to Indonesia after objection

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The United States has canceled a trip to Indonesia by a special envoy on LGBTQ rights after the country’s most influential Islamic group objected to the visit. Special envoy Jessica Stern was to have visited Indonesia next week as part of a trip to Southeast Asia. The Indonesian Ulema Council issued […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Israeli peace activists show presence in West Bank hot spot

HEBRON, West Bank (AP) — Dozens of Israeli peace activists toured the occupied West Bank’s largest city Friday in a show of solidarity with Palestinians, amid chants of “shame, shame” from ultra-nationalist hecklers. The encounter in the center of Hebron signaled the widening rift among Israelis over the nature of their society and Israel’s open-ended […]
1 day ago
FILE — South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at 10 Downing Street to meet Britain's Pr...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Why South Africa’s president might lose his job

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s president might lose his job, and his reputation as a corruption fighter, as he faces possible impeachment over claims that he tried to cover up the theft of millions of dollars stashed inside a couch on his farm. The allegations brought by a political rival have led to a damning […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Greece: Italian embassy vehicle destroyed in firebombing

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — An overnight arson attack destroyed a car used by a senior official at the Italian embassy in Athens, an incident that authorities in Greece and Italy condemned Friday. Italian Prime Minister Premier Giorgia Meloni offered solidarity to the official and expressed “profound concern for the attack against her, probably of an […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Lawsuit accuses largest US meat producers of wage fixing