Lawsuit Finally Settled with Meat Company

US - The $32-million settlement ends a 12-year legal battle to get paid for hours worked, says the union representing workers at Tyson Foods.
calendar icon 20 September 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

More than 17,000 Tyson poultry workers in 41 plants in 12 states settled a $32-million lawsuit in a 12-year struggle to get paid for work already performed. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), as the leading union for meat-packing and food processing workers, initiated the suit against Tyson and played a critical role in obtaining justice for Tyson poultry workers and thousands of UFCW members affected by the suit. On 15 September, the United States District Court in Georgia approved the settlement.

Joe Hansen, UFCW International President, said: "Every American deserves to get paid for the work they do. We're changing the way meat-packers do business and making them pay thousands of workers correctly."

The lawsuit charged Tyson with violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Meatpacking and food processing workers wear specialised protective gear while they work to protect both themselves and the food we eat. Before these UFCW-initiated lawsuits began, meat-packing companies did not pay workers for time spent taking the gear on and off, adding up to thousands of dollars of lost pay over years of work.

Mr Hansen continued: "We've already made a change in the way meat-packers pay their workers. While this settlement is long overdue, our efforts have ensured that thousands of workers have been paid correctly for years now."

The lawsuit will result in payments, averaging around $1,000 per worker, to current and former Tyson workers across the country. These payments will inject much-needed money into America's rural economy and reward a hard-working and dedicated group of poultry workers. The affected Tyson poultry workers work at plants in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

This lawsuit and the new pay practices in the meat-packing industry are just one way union workers raise standards for every worker in their industry, regardless of their union status.

The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers, 250,000 in the meat-packing and poultry industries.

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