Monday, September 08, 2008

Meatpacking Muslims refuse to work after Ramadan break denied

The Greeley Tribune:
More than 150 Muslim workers didn’t report to their meatpacking plant jobs Monday in the wake of what they called JBS Swift & Co.’s sudden reversal of accommodation for their religious fasting during Ramadan.

The workers initially planned a two-mile march from downtown Greeley’s Lincoln Park to the plant, but a gathering that formed mid-morning never left the park. . . .

The workers, mostly Somalis but many also from several other East African nations, said they were told by Swift management on Friday to not report to work Monday until the matter of changing break times to accommodate their Ramadan fasts was settled.

On Friday, about 300 Muslim workers left work mid-shift — about 9:30 p.m. — when they say they were told not to break at 7:30 p.m., when their roughly 12 hours of daily fasting for Ramadan ended. Earlier in the week, the workers negotiated with Swift to get an earlier break to allow them food and water after their fast.
Not the first time Swift has had problems like this. Last year, 100 Muslim workers quit when the company said they couldn't stop work to pray at the times they wanted. Swift also has been the subject of multiple ICE raids targeting illegal Mexican workers; the African workers are here legally:
Swift has hired hundreds of Somalis — as well as Ethiopians, Eritreans, Sudanese, Cameroonians and Congolese — in the past two years. The company’s recent addition of 1,300 jobs on a second shift opened the door to the African refugees who are legally in the United States. The Somalis — about 1,085 came to Colorado in the last year — have come to the United States under the United Nations resettlement program for refugees.
Read whole thing, but check out the picture by the Tribune's Sarah Loven:

Greeley, CO: all-American City.

Greeley, incidentally and strangely, is the town whose full-buttocked women and wasteful lawn care helped drive Muslim Brotherhood goomba Sayyid Qutb to radical Islam in the late 1940s.

Update: No resolution:

Talks between JBS Swift & Co. officials and Muslim workers seeking prayer breaks during Ramadan broke down Tuesday afternoon. . . .

Graen Isse, an African Swift worker, and several other Muslim workers met with company officials and a union representative for a few hours Tuesday, looking over a two-page list of grievances the Muslims presented. He said company officials orally agreed to some items, such as requests for more African/Somali supervisors and improved translation for non-English-speaking employees.

But Isse said the requested prayer breaks - a major issue for Muslims at all times but especially during Ramadan - were rejected by management. . . .

Most of the workers expect the company to fire them if they return to work today.

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