SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. — Workers at a Tyson Foods poultry processing plant in Tennessee have opted to trade a paid Labor Day holiday for the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
A recent 5-year contract approved by members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union at the Shelbyville, Tenn., plant includes the change to accommodate Muslim workers.
"The negotiating committee made the holiday a top priority in contract talks," the union's Alabama and Mid-South Council Representative Randy Hadley said in a June statement. "And we were able to get management to commit to it."
The change, which does not affect the company's 118 other plants, exchanges Labor Day for the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. The new contract, negotiated last fall, also gives Muslim workers a prayer room.
"Eid al-Fitr is one of eight paid holidays for all Team Members covered by the contract, while Labor Day is not a paid holiday," Gary Mickelson, Tyson's media relations director, told the Shelbyville Times-Gazette.
The seven additional paid holidays are the employee's birthday, New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mickelson said.
Tyson officials said that approximately 250 of the plant's 1,200 employees are Muslim Somalis. Many, the union said, entered the United States as political refugees, among them, Abdillahi Jama.
“This new contract is good because it allows me to work on the second shift and still pray when I need to,” Jama said in a press release. “It’s very important to us, and the Eid is one of our most sacred holidays. It shows how the union helps us.”
News of the change has prompted some anger on local Web message boards, with some messages urging readers to contact the AFL-CIO and boycott Tyson products.
The union's national president, Stuart Appelbaum, said it was the union's job "to stand up to win respect for every worker's right to practice their faith."
Tyson officials said the contract was agreed to by 80 percent of the union's 1,000 members at the plant.
This year Eid al-Fitr falls on Oct. 1.
JihadKiller will not be buying anymore from Tyson Foods. Thats MY RIGHT!
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