Tyson Foods Inc. and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) have filed a joint motion in federal court to resolve a May 2002 DOL lawsuit, which sought back wages at the company's Blountsville, Ala., poultry plant and prospective injunctive relief at the company's other poultry processing facilities, according to a Tyson Foods press release.

If approved by the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Alabama, the agreement between Tyson and the DOL will take effect on June 8, 2010. The changes in pay practices are expected to affect between 33 and 47 Tyson plant locations across the country and as many as 38,000 employees. 

Under the agreement, Tyson will gradually modify timekeeping practices at its poultry plants and certain prepared foods plants over the next two and half years. The company will provide 8 or 12 minutes of extra pay per shift on an interim basis to certain hourly processing line workers. By December 2012, the company will implement a more permanent modification, making arrangements for workers to "clock in" before they put on certain clothing items and "clock out" after the clothing items are taken off.

As part of the agreement, Tyson will also pay $500,000 to resolve all monetary and injunctive relief issues in the case, including all claims for back pay. The DOL will distribute the payments to an estimated 3,000 current and former Blountsville workers. The payments will range in value from $1 up to about $2,500, before legally-required withholdings. 

Tyson poultry workers who are represented by a union will not be affected by the interim measures. However, the unions may choose to accept the post-December 2012 system if they "opt-in" during the next 60 days.