Lawsuit filed to stop USDA’s pork line speed rule

The UFCW has filed a lawsuit against the USDA’s swine slaughter modernisation rule which it says will put “thousands of workers in harm’s way”.

A federal lawsuit has been filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota to stop the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new swine slaughter modernisation rule which eliminates the line speed limits in pork slaughter plants and turns inspection of food over to the companies that produce it.

The lawsuit was filed by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, together with public citizen and UFCW locals 663, 440 and 2.

The new rule removes all limitations on line speeds in hog slaughter plants which will endanger the health and safety of tens of thousands of workers in the hog slaughter industry. Even at current line speeds, swine slaughter and processing workers face many job risks that can lead to severe injury, illness and death, said the UFCW.

“Thousands of our members work hard every day in America’s pork plants to help families across the country put food on the table. Increasing pork plant line speeds is not only a reckless giveaway to giant corporations, it will put thousands of workers in harm’s way,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. “This new rule would also dramatically weaken critical protections that Americans depend on to be able to select safe, healthy food to feed their families every day. 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.”

The lawsuit alleges that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act because it is not backed by reasoned decision-making.

“We urged the USDA to consider how unsafe this rule would make our workplaces, but they refused,” said UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht in Minnesota. “We had no choice but to go to court to stop a rule that will endanger the health and livelihoods of thousands of UFCW members.”



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