January 30, 2018

UFCW Statement on USDA’s Decision to Reject Poultry Industry’s Push to End Line Speed Limits

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, released the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to deny the National Chicken Council’s (NCC) petition to eliminate line speed limits at poultry plants.

“This decision is a victory for hard-working poultry workers who hold one of the most dangerous and difficult jobs in America, and the consumers who depend upon them to provide chicken that is safe to eat. However, we remain concerned that poultry companies can request line speed waivers for individual plants. 

“In addition to putting poultry workers at greater risk of injury, eliminating line speeds puts consumers at risk by making it more difficult for both federal inspectors and quality control workers to properly check birds for contamination. 

“It was unbelievable to see major poultry industry groups ignore these well-known risks and lobby the USDA to eliminate line speeds.” 

Thousands of UFCW members who work in poultry plants sent comments to the USDA about the dangers of this petition. The UFCW also sent letters in October and December of 2017 to the USDA that highlighted how risky the NCC petition to eliminate line speeds would be for both workers and consumers. There are more than 250,000 poultry workers in America and 70,000 of them are members of the UFCW union family.

BACKGROUND

  • The Government Accountability Office released a report in December of 2017 that confirmed that forcing lines to move faster will expose poultry workers to higher rates of injuries and illnesses.
  • In addition to worker risks, countries with higher line speeds have higher rates of foodborne contamination in poultry plants.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.  Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.