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“Beef, Pork Producers Accused of Wage-Fixing Conspiracy”


November 15, 2022

The largest U.S. producers of beef and pork illegally conspired to depress the wages of hundreds of thousands of meat plant workers since 2014, workers alleged in a proposed class action in Colorado federal court.

In their complaint filed Friday, a trio of beef and pork processing plant workers said a group of red meat producers including JBS USA, Cargill, Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms and others shared compensation data and collaborated with supposed competitors to ensure uniform, industrywide pay policies.

“Defendant processors engaged in the conspiracy to increase their profits by reducing labor costs,” the workers said. “The intended and actual effect of defendants’ conspiracy to fix compensation has been to reduce and suppress the wages, salaries and benefits paid to class members … to levels materially lower than they would have been in a competitive market.”

The workers said the companies, which collectively produce 80% of the red meat sold in the U.S. and employ roughly 150,000 workers, designed a compensation survey that gathered each company’s hourly wage rates, salaries and employment benefits data. That ostensibly nonpublic and confidential data, which was collected on behalf of the companies by consulting firm Webber Meng Sahl & Co., included nonpublic projections about future compensation policies, the plaintiffs claimed.

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The workers are represented by Robert Carey, Shana Scarlett, Rio Pierce, Steve Berman, Breanna Van Engelen and Abigail Pershing of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, William Anderson, Matthew Handley, Rachel Nadas, George Farah, Rebecca Chang, Nicholas Jackson and Martha Guarnieri of Handley Farah & Anderson PLLC and Brent Johnson, Benjamin Brown, Daniel Silverman, Alison Deich, Zachary Glubiak, Louis Katz and Zachary Krowitz of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

Read the complete story on Law360.