Unions sue USDA over faster chicken plant production speeds

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FILE – In this Jan. 29, 2006, file photo, a car passes in front of a sign at Tyson headquarters in Springdale, Ark. The union representing workers at poultry processing plants sued the federal government on Tuesday, July, 28, 2020, to challenge a new rule that allows companies to increase line speeds through a waiver permitted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and local unions representing plants in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Missouri joined with nonprofit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen to file the lawsuit in federal court in Washington. (AP Photo/April L. Brown, File)

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP/WEHT) — Unions representing workers at 10 chicken processing plants in six states are suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to challenge a policy that allows companies to increase production speeds that the unions say puts workers at risk.

The Tyson plant in Henderson County is part of the lawsuit.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and local unions representing plants in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Missouri joined with nonprofit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen to file the lawsuit in federal court in Washington.

The lawsuit alleges that the waivers first allowed in 2018 violate the Administrative Procedure Act, endanger worker health and put them at risk during the coronavirus pandemic by making adequate distancing nearly impossible.

The Robards plant had 99 employees test positive for COVID-19.

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(This story was originally published on July 28, 2020)

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