The flow of e-mails tells me people want to talk about this but I’m not sure what there is to say.
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 5-year contract approved by members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union at the Shelbyville, Tenn., plant last November 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 statement issued in June. “And we were able to get management to commit to it.”…
“Given the nature of our work, many, many, many times we have to work holidays anyway, and Labor Day is usually one of those holidays that our workers have to work,” [Tyson spokesman Libby] Lawson said. “And, of course, they are paid holiday pay when they have to work any holiday that is recognized at our facility.”
Tyson officials said that approximately 250 of the plant’s 1,200 employees are Somalis who entered the United States as political refugees. Most, if not all, are believed to be Muslim — among them, Abdillahi Jama.
700 employees are Muslim. According to Tyson, fully 80 percent of the union’s 1,000 members agreed to the new holiday arrangement. If a workforce with a huge Muslim contingent wants to make a deal with management to have their biggest religious holiday off, who cares? And why are there rumblings about boycotting Tyson when it’s the union that’s driving this? Per the Fox News story, the policy isn’t company-wide; it applies to just that one plant to accommodate the laborers who bargained for it. Exit question: What am I missing? Is there an anti-Eid exception to freedom of contract?