Pageviews last month

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Islamic Holidays for Protestant Union Members?

Hi Folks.

I've been away from my blog a bit too long. I didn't want to bury my Obama posts under other stuff as long as I was busy updating them, but meanwhile they've been getting lots of hits from search engines, so I might as well leave them as they are for now and just keep going. [Ed. note: Most additions have now been made.]

It's a mystery to me why my blog, which still draws less than a dozen hits most days, is so consistently in the top 5 hits on Google searches. I wonder if it's because I installed Google ads? But I'm not getting enough hits from them to even pay the handling fee to cash in. Anyway, with all my faithful readers out there, I want to keep this blog as current as I can, within the constraints of actually having something interesting to write.

Today's article feeds off a news item that a Tyson Chicken plant in Shelbyville, Tenessee has signed a union contract giving all its workers an Islamic holiday off instead of Labor Day this year. My mind goes so many different ways in reaction to this news that I'm not even yet sure how I'll write in response to it.

Here are the basic facts (please correct me if I got anything wrong):

1. Tyson Foods is one of the biggest suppliers of chicken to the retail and restaurant markets in the United States, with most of its plants in the South.
2. A poultry processing plant in Shelbyville, TN is owned by Tyson Foods.
3. The 1200 workers at the Shelbyville plant are members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which just signed a five-year contract with Tyson Foods.
4. One stipulation of this contract is the replacement of Labor Day with October First (at least in 2008) as a paid holiday.
5. While Eid al Fitr is a floating holiday based on the sighting of the crescent moon ending Ramadan, it is expected to fall this year reasonably close to Oct. 1.
6. Labor Day is a federal holiday, as well as a holiday in the State of Tennessee. Eid al-Fitr is only a holiday in countries with at least a regional Muslim majority.
7. It is not illegal or even uncommon to require workers to work on federal or state holidays as a condition in their employment agreements.
8. Most of the local union members are Somali Muslims, but hundreds of others are not. It's reasonable that probably most of them would identify as Baptists or Protestants.
9. Union members also get 7 other days off each year, some of which are traditional Catholic Holidays or their weekday equivalents. Others are governmentally decreed holidays.
10. Tyson Foods has a long history of offending customers with their corporate policies: giving millions to the Clintons, hiring illegal immigrants, etc.
11. Prior customer protest boycotts of Tyson have not been particularly effective.
12. The White Man, a former customer of Tyson, has not knowingly purchased Tyson chicken products at retail or wholesale since some time in the twentieth century.

Okay, so we now know about the situation, and my prejudices. But what is my take on it?

1. Holidays are just what their name implies: Holy Days. It seems kind of dumb to celebrate Labor Day by not laboring; so why not replace it with a truly Holy Day? But how ironic that Labor Day, which was first established by the instigation of the Union Movement, should be first eliminated by the same. The Union giveth, and the Union taketh away!

2. I'm not all that thrilled by the hundreds of union members who aren't Muslim having to work when most of their friends have the day off. But it is the nature of unions that the majority of the membership imposes its will on the minority of the workforce. The solution is not more or less holidays, but an end to the union shop method of workforce coercion. If these 500 non-muslims weren't union members, they wouldn't be coerced, along with management, to abide by the terms of the contract.

3. There are interesting implications to establishing a lunar holiday, which has no precedent in European or American culture. Communities with a majority population with roots in Israel, China, and Southeast Asia have long celebrated lunar holidays, usually with local concessions given to school attendance and employment. Should this trend continue, the ultimate expression will be the right to every union to vote in a Lunar Sabbath scheme by which the company has to shut down on a different day of the week every month. Obviously this country is not ready to be that consistent in allowing every community its own holidays. In fact, Sunday is still the only constitutionally protected holiday, unless one were to include July 2nd (or 4th) by implication.

While I don't begrudge non-union members the right to work for Tyson, or union members to set their own contract terms, provided that membership in the union is purely voluntary, I still see something sinister about this whole situation. Seven hundred immigrants have been able to overturn established policy with a company that has thumbed its nose for years at the protests of myriads of its customers. Why?

And why are there so many thousands of Somalis living in Shelbyville, Tennessee?

I refer my readers back to my earlier post on Islamic Influence.

Update on July 8, 2009
Sharia at Swift/026793.php

Update on August 3, 2012
It turns out that the Somalis found employment at Tyson through a government program.

No comments:

Post a Comment

One comment per viewer, please--unless participating in a dialogue.