116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
OMAHA, Neb. - A federal judge has thrown out a rule allowing pork plants to speed up production lines because the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn't properly consider the risks to workers.
The judge in Minnesota ruled Wednesday that the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service didn't follow proper procedures before then-President Donald Trump's administration issued the rule in 2019.
The lawsuit was filed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union along with local unions in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Oklahoma and the not-for-profit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.
U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen said the agency 'expressly identified worker safety as an important consideration and requested public comment on whether increasing line speeds would harm workers. Then, after receiving many comments raising worker safety concerns, FSIS rejected the comments and eliminated line speed limits without considering worker safety.”
The USDA said Thursday that the agency is reviewing the ruling, and it remains 'deeply committed to worker safety and a safe, reliable food supply.”
Union officials praised the ruling because they say faster line speeds at pork plants increase the risk of knife injuries, knee, back, shoulder and neck traumas, and repetitive-motion injuries for workers.
The judge said her ruling won't take effect for 90 days to allow regulators time to determine how the change will affect plants that already switched to faster line speeds.