Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, August 11, 2008

Id al-Fitr for Labor Day - A Different World

I am catching up on some past articles that came in while I have been out of the office and one that caught my eye was the NYT's article from last week, Muslim Holiday at Tyson Plant Creates Furor. At a Shelbyville, Tennessee Tyson plant, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union negotiated a contract which traded the Muslim holiday that is the last day of Ramadan, Id al-Fitr for Labor Day.

Although it is quite popular with the 100's of Somali workers at the plant, it is has been less so with others who see it as un-American. It might seem a little less so when you factor in that traditionally the employer had required employees to work on Labor Day, so what they really received was premium pay rather than a day off. As one of the members of the union's negotiating team said, "We had worked 23 Labor Days in a row; it wasn’t like it was a day to spend with our family."

As the beleaguered union president Stuart Appelbaum said, “What we negotiated was the will of the workers,” and added that his was the first union to negotiate a paid day off for a Muslim holiday and that he was sure Tyson would not be the last employer to agree. Perhaps as interesting, Mr. Appelbaum is also the President of the Jewish Labor Committee.

It is a new world.

Hat tip to the folks at the Cornell University's Catherwood Library's Workplace Issues Today which provides "abstracts and links to workplace-related news stories covered in the major media."


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