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HomeBusinessShelbyville's Tyson Food plant shifts holidays; trades Labor Day for Ramadan

Shelbyville’s Tyson Food plant shifts holidays; trades Labor Day for Ramadan

SHELBYVILLE, TN: Tyson Foods in Shelbyville is rocking the boat for approximately 500 workers accustomed to the traditional Labor Day holiday on the first Saturday of September.

In its new five-year contract, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union has opted to ditch the familiar paid holiday in favor of a change that will please the plants 700 Muslim workers: Eid-al-Fitr, which occurs at the end of Ramadan. The contract contains the same number of paid holidays as before; the holidays have simply changed. Eid al-Fitr, which this year happens on Oct. 1, ends the Muslim faith’s month of fasting.

Ramadan or Ramadhan is the holiest month in Islam, when it is believed the Holy Quran “was sent down from heaven, a guidance unto men, a declaration of direction, and a means of Salvation”. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

The Union in a press statement said the plant employs 700 Muslims, many of them Somalis, and called the decision a “contractual agreement” rather than a “religious accommodation,” adding that it was a majority rule decision. The Tyson Plant in Shelbyville is also the only Tyson facility that has a Muslim Prayer Room for the convenience of its workers. According to reports, the new holiday applies only to Union workers; other employees will retain their usual Labor Day holiday.



  1. A few thoughts on that…

    Tyson basically favored the 600+ (close to 700 stated in article) Islamic workers over the 500+ non-Islamic ones out of 1,200 workers. Not a real big difference in the numbers of each group. So why take away one group’s privilege to give another group their privilege?

    The slightly fewer non-Islamic workers who, until now, have taken their traditional Labor Day holiday, a day which is normally spent with family and friends, are being forced to change from taking their holiday on September 1st, to taking their holiday on Eid al-Fitr. According to the Islamic religious calendar, this happens to fall on October 1st this year… about a month after everyone else they know has had their Labor Day holiday. Is that fair?

    We are in a nation that has agreed-on official holidays. One of the reasons for this, is so that the type of thing we see happening here doesn’t start to happen. Once we start making exceptions for one group, another group wants preferential treatment too. It doesn’t take much time for chaos to set in, because everyone wants to have things their own way.

    Those workers knew about the holiday schedule when they signed-on to work at Tyson Foods. If management wants to accommodate them in the different holiday, that is great. But the other workers do not need to suffer in losing their traditional holiday because of management’s decision to do that.

    I think it is great that they are wanting to help Islamic workers be with their families on a holiday that is very important to them. However, I don’t agree with taking away the Labor Day holiday from those non-Islamic workers who want to be with their families and friends.

    If they really are wanting to accommodate everyone, why didn’t they work the shifts out so that the non-Islamic workers could take Labor Day, like just about every other American, and the minority group, who happens to have marginally greater numbers at that one plant, could take their holiday?

    I propose that they rearrange the shifts on those two holidays to accommodate the separate workers’ holiday choices.

    They also created two prayer rooms for the Muslim workers. They may be doing this under the umbrella of the Tyson Core Values. One of the statements is that Tyson Foods strives to be “faith-friendly,” which is great in and of itself. How far is Tyson willing to go to be “faith-friendly?” If they are faith-friendly, shouldn’t they be fair and treat all faiths similarly?

    To put this in perspective, we are talking about nearly 700 people meeting together in two rooms, 350 per room, to say their prayers. Most churches around these parts run 150 to maybe close to 1,000, if they are larger. We do have a few really large churches in the area. So we are talking about Tyson Foods building, or setting aside, two large rooms, which are big enough to handle enough people to fill most churches. Sounds like Tyson is building Islamic churches to me.

    I haven’t heard of Tyson Foods creating places of prayer for the high percentage of Christian workers that have been working at various Tyson facilities all these years. What’s up with that? And are they now planning on creating places of worship for every religion represented at Tyson Foods facilities? How about at Tyson Corporate in Springdale, Arkansas?

    Shouldn’t they be fair and accommodating to every religious group represented at Tyson Foods, or is it just the Islamic worshippers who get preferential treatment? Why aren’t they building chapels or rooms for the Christians, and for the Jewish worshippers, and Catholics, and Seventh-Day Adventists, and Satanists, and so on… ?

    Also, if Tyson Foods wants to go down the slippery slope of providing rooms for religious activities at their various facilities, that is their business, but it is not a cost-effective use of investors’ funds to build rooms for every religious group present.

    So, not to just harp on a problem, I also propose a solution:

    There should be one multi-purpose, religious room built at each Tyson facility (including Tyson Corporate), which is large enough to handle either half their work force at that facility, or at least large enough to handle the largest religious group present.

    They should also hire one or more full-time, heavily-armed security officer(s), who is pro-religion, and who is not biased against any religious preference. To maximize value for their shareholders, and help increase employee efficiency by providing for these religious activities, this person should also be highly skilled at leading each religious group in their prescribed religious activities. This person should also be highly skilled at event scheduling, facilities management, counseling, metaphysical and spiritual issues, conflict resolution, diplomacy, politics, riot control, hand-to-hand combat, spiritual warfare, detection and deactivation of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, and should also be excellent at telling non-offensive, politically-correct (and religiously-correct!) jokes.

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