What's the big deal? Let Muslims have their break times when they want! It doesn't mean Sharia is coming to the U.S.!
Of course. But what it does mean is this: rising tensions and resentment from non-Muslims who have to take up the slack for the Muslims. And since Sharia allows for absolutely no compromise, that means that American businesses are going to have to choose between making Muslim employees a privileged class, and alienating their non-Muslim employees, or allowing no Sharia accommodation at all.
My money, given today's political climate, is on the former -- despite the article below. I expect that Swift will ultimately cave to Muslim demands.
More than 150 Muslim workers didn't report to their meatpacking plant jobs Monday in the wake of what they called JBS Swift & Co.'s sudden reversal of accommodation for their religious fasting during Ramadan.
The workers initially planned a two-mile march from downtown Greeley's Lincoln Park to the plant, but a gathering that formed mid-morning never left the park. Throughout the day, several Greeley police officers watched from the park's edge.
Company officials met with several workers Monday afternoon at the plant, and Somali representatives later spoke with workers in downtown Greeley.
Graen Isse, a Swift worker and group spokesman, said the workers would not discuss details of their grievances, which were supplied to Swift in writing, until the company responded. He said he expected to hear from Swift Tuesday morning.
"I believe (the workers) will be back to their jobs," Isse said.
Asked what would happen if the workers didn't get what they wanted, Isse said, "That's another question. We'll pass on that."
The workers, mostly Somalis but many also from several other East African nations, said they were told by Swift management on Friday to not report to work Monday until the matter of changing break times to accommodate their Ramadan fasts was settled.
On Friday, about 300 Muslim workers left work mid-shift -- about 9:30 p.m. -- when they say they were told not to break at 7:30 p.m., when their roughly 12 hours of daily fasting for Ramadan ended. Earlier in the week, the workers negotiated with Swift to get an earlier break to allow them food and water after their fast.
Omar Clarke, who described himself as "a white-and-black" Muslim but not Somali, said workers at 7:30 p.m. Friday were told not to leave their work lines. He said the company then locked bathrooms to stop workers from going to them.
"At 7:30 Friday they did not accommodate us on our religious beliefs," he said. "After they told us we couldn't pray, we all walked out."
Smid read a company statement late Monday afternoon: "Friday evening, a group of employees left work without proper authorization. The matter was discussed with their union representatives and the company took appropriate action. JBS Swift desires to accommodate the religious practices of all employees, which includes its Muslim employees, provided it can do so reasonably, safely and without undue burden.
"JBS Swift works closely with its employees and their union representatives to accomplish this balance of reasonable accommodation and operational requirements," the statement concluded.
Smid said she could not elaborate on the size of the group that left work and what the company's "appropriate action" might entail.
Friday afternoon, about 150 non-Muslim Swift workers protested the company's break-time accommodation of the Muslims. They said that the change was unfair to workers of other religious beliefs who don't receive similar concessions.
Brianna Castillo, a non-Muslim JBS Swift worker told the Tribune Friday, "The Somalis are running our plant. They are telling us what do to."
Aziz Dhies, who doesn't work at Swift but said he is a local representative of the Somali community, said the Somalis are peacefully trying to get what they consider a rightful concession to their religious beliefs.
"We are very peaceful people. We don't hate anybody," he said. "We love everybody here." [...]
Joe Rios, a day-shifter for nine months at Swift, said he felt the Somalis were asking for special treatment and "taking advantage of our kindness" in America. He said "most of us" at Swift are Catholic and observe a month of Lent each year without seeking work concessions based on religion.
"I think it's either you want to make money and work and put your prayers aside or you stay home," he said.
Rios said he'd heard that some disgruntled Muslim workers damaged property in the Swift parking lot Friday.
Tymkowych said police, who responded to the release of workers Friday night, didn't encounter any vandalism. "If it happened inside (the plant), they didn't tell us about it," he said.
That is contrary to a report I received.