GREELEY — A union chapter representing workers at Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (Nasdaq: PPC) locations across the U.S. is suing the Greeley-based chicken packer, claiming that the alleged price-fixing by executives there damaged the value of its pension fund.

In the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Colorado Monday, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 464A alleges that Penn and the company promoted positive outlooks to stock analysts and the broader market between February 2017 and June 2020.

UFCW Local 464A is based in New Jersey, but shares the larger national union that represents workers in the Greeley packing plants.

The union argues that company executives failed to disclose during that period what it says are anti-competitive practices, in turn inflating the company’s stock price.

Former CEO Jayson Penn and four other chicken-industry executives were indicted by a grand jury in June. Federal prosecutors say the group conspired to lower their bids to restaurant suppliers and large-scale food processors between 2012 and 2017. Penn has since pleaded not guilty and has since taken a leave of absence from the company to focus on legal defense.

That news caused a 12% drop in the company’s stock, which the UCFW chapter alleges hurt the financial position of its pension fund for retired members.

“Defendants participated in a scheme to defraud and committed acts, practices, and participated in a course of business that operated as a fraud or deceit on purchasers of Pilgrim’s Pride common stock,” the complaint reads.

The suit names Penn directly, along with former CEO William Lovette and interim CEO and president Fabio Sandri. Pilgrim’s Pride is majority-owned by JBS SA, the Brazilian beef processor with U.S. headquarters in Greeley.

The UFCW chapter is asking the court to grant the suit class-action status open to anyone who purchased Pilgrim’s Pride stock since February 2017, and to provide an undetermined amount of compensation for the loss in stock value.

Pilgrim’s Pride and UCFW Local 7 did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

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