USA – Global meat industry giants, JBS and Tyson, have agreed to a substantial settlement of US$127 million to resolve a lawsuit accusing them of conspiring to suppress workers’ wages.

The lawsuit, held in Colorado, alleged that these companies, alongside two consulting firms, engaged in activities to keep wages artificially low.

The settlement was reached after Tyson agreed to provide US$72.3 million and JBS US$55 million in compensation, highlighting the severity of the accusations leveled against them.

The court’s refusal to dismiss the claims in February 2023 further solidified the plaintiffs’ case, citing sufficient evidence to support the allegations.

Tyson and JBS each separately reached agreements, with Tyson finalizing its compensation deal on January 29, followed by JBS on March 7.

The lawsuit detailed how these companies allegedly exchanged confidential wage data through surveys and meetings, breaching antitrust laws in the process.

This settlement followed similar agreements between the claimants and other industry entities, including Perdue Farms, Seaboard Foods, Triumph Foods, and Webber, Meng, Sahl, and Company (WMS), which amounted to significant sums.

In addition to this legal battle, New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against JBS’s US arm on February 28, accusing the company of deceptive environmental claims. The lawsuit aimed to compel JBS to retract its 2040 net-zero pledge.

Meanwhile, Tyson Foods has announced the closure of its pork plant in Iowa, marking its ninth closure since early 2023.

The decision comes amid challenges faced by Tyson’s pork business, including high grain costs, although recent improvements have been noted.

The refusal of both JBS and Tyson to comment revealed the sensitivity of the legal proceedings and their potential ramifications for the meat processing sector.

In addition, the developments highlighted the challenges facing major players in the industry, with implications not only for workers’ rights but also for environmental stewardship.

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