Yo – Jonathan Coors – this is why…

from the Boulder Daily Camera

A union representing Muslim workers at a JBS Swift & Co. meatpacking plant plans to file grievances over the firing of up to 150 workers in a dispute over religious accommodations, a spokesman said.

At issue is a request by Muslim workers to be able to take lunch breaks at sunset to end their fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. As many as 300 workers walked out of JBS Swift & Co. on Friday before their shifts ended, and the union had been in talks with the company.

All they asked was that their break time be shifted to take in to account their religion. Why a company would be so brain-dead is beyond me. Maybe they can post an explination here.

55 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Fidel's dirt nap says:

    Because if these workers change their break time to something different than everyone else takes, and aren’t there to work on the line, you have to shut down the entire plant just to accomodate them. Each line on the plant works in unison. That is a lot of money to lose to shut down operations for them – who is going to pay for that ?

    These Somalis that are part of this dispute are in the US on a UN resettlement program.  They got a great deal and a chance to live in the best country in the world (ours) and now they need special breaks that screw up everything else.

    Hell, I worked Christmas Day a few times when I lived in Japan.  Live with it, and stop being a douchebag.  I am no fan of Jonathan Coors, and am OK with Unions, but this shit has to stop somewhere.

    These workers are a bunch of ungrateful sonsabitches.

    • Arvadonian says:

      Discrimination based on national origin is also illegal.

      Should they be exempt from minimum wage laws as well?  How about workplace safety rules?  

      What if they were native born Mulims?  Would you say the the employees should be protected by all employment laws on the books then?

      What you are highlighting is one the of main reasons we have issues with illegal immigration now.  Employers are not held accountable for employment laws on the books (minimum wage, workplace safety, etc.) when they hire workers who are here illegally…that is the incentive to hire them in the first place.  Further, when you allow an employer to treat these workers differently, it makes it harder for other workers to demand their rights be protected.  

      • Libertad says:

        God is great. My brothers and sisters, I am concerned about our Right-to-Work. The trade unions reject us in our time of need. Trade unions provide only Christian conditions. Monopoly trade unions fail to care for all members rights. In American terms, this is selective racial discrimination. The monopoly contract makes “JBS” to terminate workers. If “JBS” did not terminate our people, the union threatened to stop all operations.

        The trade unions desire to oust the racial minority. Union decides what people will have the jobs. The trade unions do not represent all members’ rights? Perhaps the trade unions want to return those illegal workers guilty of identity theft crimes? Perhaps union shop stewards facilitate the identity theft crimes with these illegal workers? God is great.

    • Poindexter says:

      I don’t disagree with your general point about how factories work, but the Boulder article missed some of the context:

      “Another 120 workers – most of them Somalis – broke ranks with the protesters, went back to work Tuesday and kept their jobs, JBS Swift & Co. officials said in a statement.”  (Today’s Denver Post)

  2. Arvadonian says:

    when they walked out.  This action constitutes job abandonment and gives the company more leverage in taking the action they took.

    Having said that, the company should have avoided this conflict by accomodating the requests of their employees.  The company is harmed on two levels:  1)  They have likely engaged in religious discrimination against these employees by not making a reasonable accomodation.  2)  They were just in the news less than two years ago with the ICE raid on this very plant.  Do they really want to be dragged into the news cycle again with an employment issue?

  3. Go Blue says:

    This is why we need JUST CAUSE.

    • Arvadonian says:

      the employer didn’t take the separating action.  The employees abandoned their job.  Technically, they quit.

      “Just Cause” would not apply.

        • Arvadonian says:

          for 20 years.  I’d like to think I know something about it!

          • bob ewegen says:

            and I was a union officer for 14 years until I was demoted to management. But please don’t tell Libertine!

            • Libertad says:

              in America shouldn’t everyone have a right to make a living as they choose … and not be forced as a condition of employment to join an association or pay its forced dues?

              Colorado’s government workers enjoy the Right-to-Work, shouldn’t all Coloradans have an equal right to this protection?

              • Arvadonian says:

                Employees cannot opt out of the minimum wage law, workers’ compesation law or any other “contract” governing the employee-employer relationship.  Union contracts should be treated the same way.  

                Employees do have an option to not be employed in a union environment….work elsewhere.  If you are a flight attendant and don’t want to pay union dues, then work for Southwest Airlines as opposed to United Airlines.

                • Libertad says:

                  Ernie Duran admits that 50% of his members would choose to opt out of the UFCW if they had the Right-to-Work http://laborpains.org/?p=822.

                  Then Ernie uses forced union dues to pay for the collection of signatures in a terrorist-like attempt to threaten the Colorado economy.

                  Ernie uses those politicians he helped elect with forced union dues to act as his proxy with community organizations … the proxies direct the organizations to force their members to the will of the corrupt union or else be excluded from the “in crowd”.

                  We have been in communication with Governor Ritter and Congressman Perlmutter in an attempt to remove 47 from the ballot. – Ernie Duran

                  The proxies first attempt was to offer 2010 as a better year for RTW. That tactic failed for many reasons. Then out came the gun-to-head move of threatening all Coloradans.

                  For the sake of the children Ernie, call off your external corruption; pull your ballot measures and digest the new ColoradoWINS membership.

                  You have your automatic minimum wage in the constitution and 60,000+ new government employees as dues paying members — who have the Right-to-Work. 😉

                  For the Christ’s sake Ernie and for the sake of new membership development, if your measures pass no one will need you. 😉

                  Forced Dues – Harassment – Corruption – Discrimination – Politics = Union Facts

                  • Arvadonian says:

                    Boy you sure elevate the discussion.

                    First, as I posted elsewhere, I am an HR Professional, so the only time I’ve sat at a negotiation table, I’ve been on the company side of the table.

                    Second, in my experience, employers can prevent union organization of their workforce if they treat their employees fairly or at least in a consistent manner.  It is called “Union Avoidance” and any major employer that has a CEO with 1/2 of a brain has a program in place to address these very issues.

                    Third, I don’t particularly care for unions.  Having said that though, if employees chose to be represented, then for consistency, you can’t have individuals reaping the benefits of union membership without sharing in the burden of union membership.  

                     

                • Libertad says:

                  I’ll call Dog. He’s in town and just dragged in 4 convicts. Maybe Dog can come over to the office and shake you out of the Craig mind meld you are in.

                  • bob ewegen says:

                    whenever you post yours: the repeated and often disproven lie that Bill Ritter supports Right-to-work-for-less.

                    I also post it when you post the irrelevant section of the Wagner Act that was superceded by section 14B of the Taft-Hartley Act, which led to the Colorado Labor Peace Act.

                    So, how’s that wide stance thing working out for you, Libertine?

                    Regretfully, Nancy Baldwin is an idiot!

                    • Libertad says:

                      Taft-Hartley allows states to self determine FOR Right-to-Work.

                      Shouldn’t Coloradans have that opportunity to choose (meaning the ballot box choice)?

                      Sorry to hear Bill Ritter supports forced unionism and forced union dues.  Quite an un-democratic position.  

                      Anything else you can share from your chats with the Governor?  

                    • bob ewegen says:

                      that’s why your citation of the outdated NLRA section is irrelevant and why you should cite the Labor Peace Act, which is basically an exercise of 14B.

                      And I’m glad you finally admit you’ve been lying about your claim that Ritter supports right to work.

              • tallport says:

                If the majority of people were to elect my state representative and I voted for the other person, I would not have the right to refuse paying taxes.  Representative democracy is not a perfect system, but it is best system. Same principle applies. Put democracy back into the American workplace.

                “”America: Socializing the risks, Privatizing the profits, Putting business in the democracy, Taking the democracy out of the business.””

                — Christopher Masterjohn

      • ohwilleke says:

        quitting is considered “constructive discharge” and you still are treated as fired.

        Even the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay respects Muslim prayer requests during Ramadan (which started September 1 and lasts for a month), and both federal and state law require reasonable accommodation of religious needs of employees.

        Swift was just plain dumb here.

        • bob ewegen says:

          They have a union contract. It has grievance procedures. They violated the terms of that contract by not using those procedures.  Failing to report to work was basically a resignation under the circumstances.   If they absolutely had to take their prayer time, they could have done so and it would then have been up to Swift to fire them.

          Unions are the best thing going for workers…assuming workers make use of their rights under the contract.

          • Libertad says:

            and the UFCW wants the illegals back at work and to create fodder and spin like this. You know those illegals with their ID theft thing can register to vote.

            Risky play by Ernie. Unlike the illegals with fake IDs those Somali’s can’t vote in the Presidential election.

            😉

        • Arvadonian says:

          (as opposed to “absolute”) being the operative word here and that is what was in the process of being resolved between the union and the company…the workers’ walking out undercut their position.

          A prison camp is not a good comparison to a workplace.  You have presented an apple and orange proposition.  Prisoners at Guantanamo are also provided free medical care but we don’t expect employers to provide that….

          Don’t misunderstand me, I am not defending Swift.  I think that they have made a huge mistake here.

          • Fidel's dirt nap says:

            the workers forced their hand, and they didn’t bend.

            • Arvadonian says:

              From a strictly employment standpoint, I would agree.

              From a Public Relations standpoint, I’m not so sure.  They were just in the news less than two years ago for employing undocumented workers.  Not so sure that it is a good idea to be back on the front pages with yet another employment issue.

              There really is no “upside” to this whole event for Swift….

    • DavidThi808 says:

      If Just Cause only stopped crap like this I would consider it. But it also pulls in a lot more and in the course of that, destroys companies and the jobs they provided.

      The answer to this is not Just Cause, the answer to this is a union (which appears to be on the case) and raking them over the coals in the press.

      Be careful trying to write laws to force a perfect world – that usually backfires.

  4. Barron X says:

    .

    Colorado Pols can be proud of the caliber of participant in this community.  

    Off topic, shouldn’t the name of this site be changed to “ColoradoPalin,” considering that the central theme has shifted ?

    .

  5. Gilpin Guy says:

    could have engaged in more constructive means to resolve the issue.  I guess winning hearts and minds isn’t necessary if your a local Muslim.

  6. bob ewegen says:

    in my own Denverpost.com rap.

    http://blogs.denverpost.com/op

    • brio says:

      I think you’re dead on with your general points, Bob, but you should be a little slower to embrace internet legal advice.  For example, you should disregard what I am about to say.

      First, religious descrimination – it is not illegal to refuse to accommodate if accommodation would impose an “undue hardship.”  If Swift can prove that they would have to shut down to the line to allow 200 employees to an extra break, they at least have an argument to make.  That said, that plant in Minnesota may prove a pretty compelling counter example.

      Second, “job abandonment” is a human resources term not a legal concept.  Legally Swift terminated those workers; they did not resign.  The difference is that now Swift can say it terminated them for failing to report for work and for participating in an unauthorized strike, which as reasons for termination go are pretty hard to argue with in a court.

      p.s. – if the unnamed Arvodian happens to be a client of this unnamed employment lawyer, I retract what I just said and s/he was correct about everything.

      • bob ewegen says:

        As to not reporting to work, bear in mind that the only thing keeping these men and women from being at-will emplopees is their union contract. They acted in violation of that contract, in effect a wildcat strike.

        They are out, looking in, while the 120 other muslims who honored the contract and filed grievances are in, looking good.

        If they get their jobs back, of course, the 100 fired employees will have even more reason to support their union and to dump coals on the head of libertine and other anti-worker shills.

        • brio says:

          It may have been a reasonable and nonburdensome (actually two different questions, legally) to accommodate a ten minute break to down some post-fast food. I don’t know enough about meat packing plants to have a clue.  It no longer matters, though, because the terminated workers will have a vastly harder time convincing anyone it would have been a reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs to tolerate 100 employees not showing up for work at all.  Now, if they can prove that other employees were not terminated for not showing up to work, they may be back in the game . . .  

          • bob ewegen says:

            My main point is that if you are lucky enough to have a union, USE it, don’t walkout without authorization. I’ve represented discharged workers and won, but once got stuck with a guy who got mad and quit, verbally, in earshot of the whole newsroom.  We got him his severance pay, but that was all.

      • Fidel's dirt nap says:

        I don’t think Swift was wrong, and I don’t think they were discriminating against these workers.  Remember that Swift hired these workers in the first place.  I don’t disparage the workers religion either – I disparage their judgement.

        You can’t make accomodations for every request from every religion on everyone else’s terms – you have a business to run ! When you have workers walk off or don’t show up in a meat processing plant the losses are staggering just for a few hours.

        Unreasonable is the key word.  It was an unreasonable request and it was denied.

        • DavidThi808 says:

          Try not eating anything from sunrise to sundown while working your ass off on an assembly line – and then going a couple more hours after that before eating.

          If nothing else they should have done something like an extra 5 minute break for all where they could eat a power bar or something.

          • Fidel's dirt nap says:

            and the choice is theirs David.  If you job somehow conflicts with your values, or your religion, or your beliefs, usually you change your job. Unless of course you are the type of person who thinks the world revolves around you.  

            You can’t just walk off a line at a processing plant at any time – it just dosen’t work that way.  All hands have to be on deck at the same time.

            Also, the way they handled it (by walking out) is completely obnoxious and irresponsible. Hopefully they have learned something from it.

            • DavidThi808 says:

              But I think we should try to accomidate. I have worked with a few Jews who would take off Friday afternoon to make sure they were home before sundown. And in the winter in Seattle that’s pretty early.

              On the flip side, companies can’t bend every which way to perfectly fit each person’s observances. So yes, the company also has a right to make reasonable, but only reasonable adjustments.

              But when you have this many people that feel this strongly about it, I think the company should have tried a little harder. It’s not a trivial thing for that many people to quit, especially in this economy.

  7. parsingreality says:

    Back when I was the chaplain for clients in a large program in Denver, I looked into the company’s possible problems with religion in our workplace.  There had been a few incidients, complaints, of Christians insisting that THEIR radio station be played in the work room or their office where training was going on.  We had a few Muslim employees, no issues ever arose there.

    I found that the federal government, under Clinton, set up guidelines.  While not having the force of law, many, many companies and institutions have copied them in full or in part because, believe it or not, they were fair and logical.

    For instance, a person has the right to proselytize, but if the victim says to stop, the prol must do so from that time on.  One can have a Bible or whatever on the desk, but a radio can’t play into other’s space.

    An employer is not required to meet the religious wishes or demands of adherents.  It is not religious discrimination to not do so.  

    The Somalis should have worked on this well in advance and not wait until Ramadan.  They were not discriminated against in hiring, nor now.  They are a minority within the larger culture.  The culture does not have to change to their religious culture, nor should it in my opinion. Assimilate.

    If I went to Saudi Arabia and I wanted Christmas Eve off for religious observation and they denied me, “Oh, well.”  If one’s religion has so little flexibility, it is not the larger culture that is at fault.  

    I think there have been other issues at Swift that were a collision between what they do and the Somali’s Muslim faith.  Was it pigs?  I don’t recall.  

    The Somali’s have every right to find work elsewhere if Swift doesn’t meet their religious needs.  They sure have learned the new American way of whining real fast.  

    Diversity, ain’t it grand?  

  8. Something Is Brewing says:

    They accommodated the workers in every possible way.

    They even changed their lunch by over an hour to accommodate them. Other workers were forced to take up the slack for them.

    This kind of knee jerk liberal guilt is in a word silly.  No where on the face of this earth Muslim country or otherwise would this nonsense be tolerated.  You go to to work to work not to pray. Like every other worker they had regularly scheduled breaks and could have prayed to their heart’s content during those breaks.  They refused to work and got fired. What is the problem?

  9. Something Is Brewing says:

    In Muslim countries they fast until they get off work and than go to pray. Sundown does not cause everyone to immediately stop working and go to pray.

    Swift is a meat packing company not a mosque.  There is no obligation under law or custom to give employees time off from their work day to pray. Even though not required to do so Swift altered their lunch hours so they could do so. If an employee refused to work on Sunday because it is his or her Sabbath they could fire them as well.  

    They did not want to work and were fired.

    The funniest part is when they said the lunch hour had to vary because the time of Sundown changed.  David find a another knee jerk cause to get worked up about. This is one where all the facts and law are on the side of Swift.  

    • bob ewegen says:

      In Judaism, for example, the sabbath is friday sundown to saturday sundown…and, yes, its onset thus varies throughout the year.  An Orthodox jew could work until 5 p.m. Friday and drive home by 7 if he did that in, say, July. In February, that schedule would violate the sabbath.

      Swift just gave another wonderful reason why workers should join unions.  Without a union, you don’t have a “right to work” you have a “right to be screwed.”

  10. Dennis in Denver says:

    Wow, another high paid job in America that Americans won’t do right? I grew up in the mid-west where jobs in the meat cutting plants were some of the highest paid jobs in town.

    Instead of whining about how the Muslims from another country should be accommodated, how about the union doing their job and getting the pay and working conditions where they should be so Americans will take the jobs? It’s hard, dirty work but it’s nothing that Americans won’t do if properly compensated. It almost appears that the unions contribute to their own demise by scabbing themselves with foreign workers. That keeps the pay down and the working conditions deplorable.

    When I was growing up whole families were clothed, housed and feed on paychecks from the meatpacking plant. We owned our own house had a boat for recreation two cars and lived a great middle class, blue collar, life.

    It just sounds in this politically correct time no one is willing to see the issue for what it really is. Here we have a plant that is already unionized and the union lay’s down and does nothing for the workers. What exactly are the workers paying dues for if they are not getting represented?  

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