Unions representing workers at 10 poultry processing plants in six states, including Arkansas, have sued the Agriculture Department over rules allowing faster chicken processing lines, which puts the workers more at risk for coronavirus.
Faster speeds make distancing more difficult, workers say. Workers at poultry plants have accounted for almost 2,000 cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include a United Food and Commercial Workers Union local in Little Rock.
The suit said:
Plaintiff United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local No. 2008 is a labor organization headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. Local 2008 represents workers who work on the poultry processing line in the Wayne Farms plant in Danville, Arkansas and in the Tyson Foods plants in Dardanelle, Arkansas (FSIS Establishment No. P72) and Noel, Missouri. In September 2019, the Dardanelle plant received a waiver from FSIS that allows the plant to increase its line speed from 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute. In April 2020, the Danville and Noel plants received waivers from FSIS that allow each plant to increase its line speed from 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute