Processing Magazine

Class Action Allowed in Cargill Plant Wage Fight

March 17, 2010

According to the Associated Press, a federal judge has certified a class-action lawsuit against Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. over whether workers at the company''s Schuyler plant should be paid for preparation and cleanup work. Several similar lawsuits are pending against other meatpacking companies in Nebraska. The plaintiffs say Cargill fails to pay its hourly workers for the time they spend dressing in protective gear, sanitizing tools, and walking to and from workstations, among other things. Former Cargill workers Juan Martinez and Antonio Guzman filed the lawsuit, which contends plant employees spend a substantial amount of time each day on these activities without getting paid. The plaintiffs say the federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires the company to pay for preparation and cleanup time. Cargill denies any wrongdoing and says the union contract specifically excludes that time from paid time. All current and former employees who worked at the slaughterhouse between April, 2006, and now will be notified about the lawsuit, which was filed last year. Similar federal lawsuits have been filed over wages at Tyson Foods'' Lexington plant and Farmland Foods'' Crete plant. Both those cases are awaiting trial.