As the meat and poultry industry struggles to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, processing line speeds are increasingly becoming a point of contention.
Unions representing meat-plant workers, and their allies in Congress, are pressing through legislation and litigation to roll back recent increases in permitted line speeds. The industry is pushing back, arguing that high line speeds are needed to meet the nation’s demand during the crisis.
At issue are USDA regulations that allow processors to run lines faster, either normally or as a response to the pandemic. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union filed a federal lawsuit July 28 to overturn a USDA waiver allowing faster speeds in poultry plants during the crisis.