Poultry workers (current and former) are asking for a judge’s approval of an additional $84.8 million in new settlements against three of the U.S.’s largest poultry processors: Sanderson Farms, Cargill Meat Solutions, and Wayne Farms.
The plaintiffs allege that the processors and consulting companies conspired to depress worker compensation at the plants, hatcheries, feed mills, and other sectors.
The new settlement amount will bring the total recovery for the litigation to more than $134 million. The original settlement was initially brought forth in July by the Justice Department and included $84 million in restitution to workers harmed by information sharing and civil antitrust lawsuits, according to documents.
Although the defendants have denied the allegations according to the filing, Sanderson Farms has agreed to $38.3 million, Wayne Farms, $31.5 million, and Cargill, $15 million to resolve the issue.
According to court documents, the case has been pending for almost three years.
“Through a brazen scheme to exchange wage and benefit information, these poultry processors stifled competition and harmed a generation of plant workers who face demanding and sometimes dangerous conditions to earn a living,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Doha Mekki of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.
Reports show that last year, the companies produced 42.6 billion pounds of chicken with a value of $65 billion. The 17 companies named in the original suit control about 90 percent of the U.S. chicken market.