DOJ Eyes Poultry Employment Practices

Mar 8, 2022

The federal government is chicking out accusations that large poultry companies are involved in oppressing employee wages through anticompetitive sharing of employment practices.

Why did the chicken cross the road? To earn better wages, but that has been virtually impossible given the antitrust allegations in the U.S. meat industry, including price-fixing, unfair employee wages, and increasing grocery bills.

Nothing to bawk at, the Biden administration charges the U.S. meat industry with using its authority to blow up our food bills. Meanwhile farm groups and producers accuse large meat companies of using their power to keep livestock prices artificially low.

On the chopping block: Pilgrim’s Pride and Perdue Farms both confirmed DOJ notices that they are under investigation for “human resources antitrust matters.” Tyson Foods Inc., George’s Inc., and Sanderson Farms Inc. refused to comment.

In lawsuits, chicken plant employees claim their employers exchanged compensation data to drive down wages for more than 20 years.

Taking action: The Biden administration said it will increase competition between meat processors (four control 55-85% of the beef, pork, and poultry market), direct $1B to help independent producers (thus lowering prices for consumers), and crack down on price-fixing claims.

Where this goes: Processors will feel the heat as lawsuits continue to pile up and investigations mount. It may impede current merger deals in an already monopolized industry.