ST. PAUL, MINN. — The Minnesota House of Representatives announced that it would move forward with proposed laws governing labor standards for workers in food processing and agricultural industries.

The House Labor and Industry Finance and Policy Committee approved HF70, which updates the Packinghouse Workers Bill of Rights. Currently, it only covers workers at meatpacking plants and only requires new employee paperwork to be provided in English and Spanish.

The bill plans to expand the statute to include a mandate for paperwork in the recruit’s native language. Amendments would also add poultry processing facilities under the rules.

Other additions included workers’ ability to receive information about worker’s compensation insurance at the start of employment. Other updated protections would be applied to migrant workers in other parts of the agricultural sector in Minnesota.

“These laws that we’re modifying here haven’t been changed in a long time,” said Representative Rick Hansen, the sponsor of HF70. “Our state has changed, our world has changed, and we need to update and evolve.”

Hansen stated that he helped pass the original statute 16 years ago. 

The proposed updates were approved on a split-voice vote, sending the bill to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee.

However, some opposition was noted on the bill about whether the move would keep Minnesota competitive in meat processing.

“We need to ensure we have a competitive marketplace to do this, so that we are not increasing those costs for producers to send this meat to another state … where Minnesota workers don’t benefit,” Representative Isaac Schultz said.