Thursday, September 11, 2008

Colorado: Dozens of Muslims sent packing at meat plant

5:42 pm Update: Fired Muslim workers plan low-profile day...

in recognition of the victims of the 9-11 massacre seven years ago, according to one of the workers’ leaders.

Kaise Egal, who hasn’t worked at Swift but is a leader of the local Muslim workers, said the fired workers were staying low-key “in respect to the 9-11 victims.”

“We told the people to be low-profile and not to demonstrate,” Egal said in a phone interview. “That’s why we didn’t do the walk (on Monday) from the (downtown Greeley) park to the Swift facility.”

7:00 AM: Fired for violation of union contract.

A week-long dispute between JBS Swift & Co. and hundreds of Muslim workers seeking Ramadan prayer accommodations flared into firings of about 100 workers Wednesday afternoon.

Some said they will take legal action against the company, and a spokesman for United Food Commercial Workers Local 7, which represents production workers at Swift, said the union will file a grievance for any worker who wants his or her job back.


One laid-off worker, Graen Isse, one of the Muslim leaders, said he counted 130 terminated workers.

As soon as they got their papers they were told to leave the plant. All of the laid-off workers refused to sign the sheet. The first 30 sheets had a union representative write "refused to sign" on the employee signature line, but the rest of the termination sheets' signature lines were left blank.

About 15 Greeley police officers arrived at the plant, responding to a 3:56 p.m. call from a Swift security guard who said things were "getting out of control" inside the plant, said Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner, who also went to the plant.

Police said one minor assault was reported and they were investigating to determine who was involved. Garner said a plant official said one worker was apparently disorderly and escorted from the scene. Police didn't find any disturbances, however, and remained on scene as the Muslim workers, mostly Somalis who have been hired at Swift in the past year, filed out and onto a grassy area outside the employee parking lot. They talked in groups for about an hour, then dispersed.

Of course, the Union is grousing that 'workers didn't get ample notice'. Perhaps the discharged employees should have thought about giving 'ample notice' to their employer when they walked off the job and disrupted the whole production line.

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