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Several unions have banded together to file a lawsuit to block enforcement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new swine slaughter modernization rule, which eliminates line speed limits in slaughterhouses.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and UFCW Locals 663, 440 and 2 filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in St. Paul on Tuesday, arguing that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act because “it is not backed by reasoned decision-making,” the UFCW International Union said in a statement.
The new USDA rule, published Sept. 17, removes the previous maximum line speed limit, which the unions state was equivalent to processing 1,106 hogs per hour.
In May 2018, more than 6,500 UFCW members who work in pork plants submitted comments to the USDA in opposition to the proposed rule that would increase the line speeds, arguing that the change would pose a safety risk to both workers and consumers, said the union.
Slaughterhouse workers suffer injuries more than twice the national average, according to 2017 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The local unions, which represent workers in and around Minneapolis, western Iowa and central Kansas, are represented by Washington-based Public Citizen Litigation Group.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a final rule purported to “modernize” the swine slaughter inspection process, the agency announced Tuesday. However, worker safety advocates argue that the change could make the industry less safe for employees.