GREELEY, Colo. — Colorado meat processing company JBS USA has reached a settlement in a lawsuit on behalf of workers who accused the company of price fixing and illegally suppressing wages and benefits.
While the details of the settlement have not yet been publicly released, its existence was confirmed on the website of a team of attorneys representing workers in the suit.
The lawsuit, brought by attorneys at Cohen Milstein, alleged that JBS USA “conspired to fix and depress compensation paid to employees at red meat processing plants” since “at least 2014.” Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that executives at JBS USA held secret meetings and communications with executives at other companies to fix wages and benefits, exchanged compensation data monthly and created “no poach” agreements to not recruit employees from one another. Lawyers argued these actions violated antitrust laws.
Magaly Licolli, a member of the Food Chain Workers Alliance and the executive director of Venceremos meatpacking workers group in Arkansas, told Denver7 this settlement bolsters hope among workers across the country fighting for better pay and working conditions.
“We saw pretty clearly how these companies were having this cozy relationship between each other to pretty much determine how they will treat workers and how much money they were going to pay them,” Licolli said. “So, these workers didn’t have opportunities.”
The announcement of a settlement with JBS USA gives workers hope and encourages them to “continue holding the companies accountable on the legal side,” Licolli said.
While we don’t yet know the conditions of this settlement, a lawsuit against Seaboard Foods last year resulted in a $10 million settlement for workers, according to Cohen Milstein.
Denver7 reached out to JBS USA about the settlement but hasn't heard back as of publication.