The company said that the change was made as part of contract negotiations with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union and applies only to that plant. Labor Day remains a paid holiday at Tyson’s other 118 plants.
“This change came about as a result of union demands brought to the negotiating table, and was agreed upon by Tyson in an effort to reach a contractual agreement with the union,” Tyson said in a written statement. “The contract that calls for this change was unanimously recommended by the 12-person union bargaining committee, which included three Somali employees.” The contract was agreed to by 80 percent of the union membership at the plant.
The company said that about 1,000 workers are covered by the union agreement at Shelbyville. About 250 of the employees are Muslim Somali refugees.
The change has had some strong reaction locally. Local television reported that some in the area had objected to a Muslim holiday as a paid day off. Tyson reiterated that the change was not a religious accommodation but part of a union contract demand.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. This year it falls on Oct. 1.
Source: Tyson Foods Inc.