The Washington Post

Poultry processors to pay restitutio­n

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Three of the largest U.S. poultry processors have agreed to settle claims by the Justice Department over their alleged long-standing effort to share informatio­n about workers to drive down compensati­on.

Cargill, Sanderson Farms and Wayne Farms have agreed to pay more than $84 million in restitutio­n to workers harmed by the informatio­n sharing to resolve civil antitrust lawsuits, according to proposed consent decrees made public Monday.

The government also sued and reached a settlement including a data consulting firm, Webber, Meng, Sahl and Co.

“Through a brazen scheme to exchange wage and benefit informatio­n, these poultry processors stifled competitio­n and harmed a generation of plant workers who face demanding and sometimes dangerous conditions to earn a living,” said Doha Mekki of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division in a statement.

Under the agreement, Cargill Meat Solutions is to pay

$15 million, Sanderson will pay $38.3 million and Wayne will pay $31.5 million.

The settlement was filed Monday in a U.S. District Court in Maryland shortly after the lawsuits were filed.

The department also said it had reached a settlement with Cargill and Continenta­l Grain, which closed a deal on Friday to buy Sanderson Farms. Sanderson will be combined with Wayne Farms, a Continenta­l Grain subsidiary.

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