Good thing they have a union at Tyson Foods. The mega-corporation that supplies chicken nuggets to the world has been hiring a large number of recent immigrants, many from Somalia. Most of those immigrants are Muslim. A major Muslim holiday is Eid al-Fitr, a family and religious celebration at the end of Ramadan. Tyson decided to make that day a paid holiday.
Fine. Corporations would usually rather spend huge bucks on human resources consultants than grant their employees a concession that would make them happy and boost morale. What boosts morale more than a day off?
The problem is that Tyson was too stingy to add a holiday, so they took out Labor Day. Iâ€™m sure there was no disrespect intended to the union. Just one of those things.
Naturally it turned out to be gasoline to the right-wing blogosphere. It must have caused some dissonance for some of them when they had to defend Labor. Way to go, Tyson, this will really improve employee cooperation and good relations in the workplace. Take away a traditional American paid holiday in honor of Labor and add a religious holiday that is observed by the newest immigrant employees.
But Labor won this roundâ€“
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn., Aug 08, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and Tyson Foods have reached an agreement to increase the number of paid days off for workers in the current calendar year to include Labor Day and the Muslim observance Eid al-Fitr as paid holidays for workers in the Shelbyville poultry processing plant.. a worker who does not observe Eid al-Fitr will have the option of selecting another day as a paid Personal Day at their discretion.
“The union is pleased that the will of the workers in Shelbyville to observe and celebrate Eid al-Fitr will be guaranteed as a paid holiday,” said Stuart Appelbaum, national president of the RWDSU. “The RWDSU believes that this is an important sign of respect of deeply held religious beliefs. This Labor Day, the workers at Shelbyville have more reason that ever to be proud of being part of a union.”
They did good. Itâ€™s not only Muslims who have minority religious holidays. Many Christians do too. And as a Unitarian I might want to celebrate Ralph Waldo Emersonâ€™s birthday, so I can sympathize.
Iâ€™m glad the conflict was defused, and if anyone at Tyson was trying to divide and conquer then they surely overplayed their hand.