State programs

State audit finds flaws in Minnesota meatpacker protections

Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry

St. Paul, MN – The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry needs to more effectively implement a law intended to protect meatpacking workers, and the legislature should make changes to clarify the law, according to a report from the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor.

The department has not publicized the Packinghouse Workers Bill of Rights since sending a mailing to employers when the law was passed in 2007, the report states. Auditors visited eight firms, and found that executives at two of them knew nothing about the law and most workers were unfamiliar with it. However, the report notes that additional publicity might not improve the law’s “limited scope.”

Auditors also found that the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an incomplete inspection list of meatpacking plants. The report recommends that MNOSHA ensure all applicable employers are included in inspections, and that the legislature more clearly define “meatpacking” and “native language” in the law.

The department responded that it would share more information about the law, and MNOSHA would adjust its targeting of plants for inspection.