Tyson Foods Sued for Failing to Contribute to Trust

Trustees of the Northern California UFCW Wholesale Health and Welfare Trust Fund filed a legal complaint against Tyson Foods, Inc. for breaching an employee union contract. Tyson agreed to pay the plaintiff a monthly amount for eligible employees who were involved in the union, and they allege Tyson Foods’ records show the fringe benefit contributions have not been submitted.

The board of trustees, represented by Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld, alleged that the trust was part of a collective bargaining agreement with Tyson and the Butchers’ Union of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union.

“Demand has been made of Defendant for payment of the amounts determined to be due and owing pursuant to the audit.  To date, Defendant has refused to pay such amounts and there is now due, owing and unpaid to the Trust Fund from Defendant, fringe benefits contributions, liquidated damages and interest in the amount of at least $90,934.14,” the complaint stated.

The plaintiff argued that they are a third-party beneficiary of the agreement and should not be required to arbitrate disputes about the agreement. They said they have complied with all agreements and are entitled to fees, interest, and other expenses due to the failure of Tyson Foods to pay the benefit contributions.

The trustees ask that the defendant be required to give timely monthly contributions as long as they are obligated by the union to contribute. “The Trust Agreement provides for prompt payment of all employer contributions to the Trust Fund and provides for liquidated damages, not as a penalty but as a reasonable attempt to provide for payments to cover the damages incurred by the Trust Fund in the event of a breach by the employer where it would have been impracticable or extremely difficult to ascertain the losses to the Trust Fund,” the complaint said.