Muslim holiday with pay?

4 Oct

Recently, I received an email expressing outrage that Tyson Foods had approved exchanging Labor Day with a Muslim holiday for paid holidays at one plant in Tennessee.  It advocated a boycott of Tyson’s products to express displeasure.

I thought about it, and then I did my own research.  The article I found, from Fox News, is right here.

I’m not crazy about the whole Muslim thing, I regard it with suspicion because of the violence associated with it.  I’m not alone, many Americans do.  People are like that–we fear the unknown.  Even so, I have known some Muslims that weren’t budding terrorists and seemed quite normal.

I try to be open minded, to think things over before reacting.  So, I thought it over.  This whole Tyson Foods and Muslim holiday thing makes more sense then.

It isn’t throughout the Tyson Foods’ company, it’s one single plant with a high percentage of Muslim workers.  I seriously doubt that it is some insidious plan to take over America  by creating a “hot bed” of Muslim immigrants in Tennessee.  Immigrants have always clustered together for a generation or two.  They apparently feel better about having people with a similar culture and language and religion.  Would we think differently if it was all about Swedish immigrants and some Scandinavian holiday?  (Sorry, I don’t know of any, but I didn’t know about this Muslim holiday before either.)   Sorry to say, yes, America in general would feel differently.

The holiday swap was voted on by the members of the union that represented workers at that plant.   It achieved a definite majority vote too–over 80% voted it in.  That’s what unions are for–to help union workers at that location.  They got something the workers there wanted, something that validated their beliefs and culture.  That doesn’t mean they get the day off, by the way.  The plant doesn’t close for holidays, and the workers are there anyhow.  They just moved the day that the extra pay would appear on their paycheck.  It only affects union workers at that single plant.  Non-union workers still get the pay on the regular Labor Day holiday.

To me, the entire thing is a non-issue.  Part of the whole American experience is religious freedom.  That means that person A can’t cram religion X down person B’s throat and force them to observe it, nor can person B cram religion Y down person A’s throat.  It doesn’t matter what religion you put in the place of x or y either–you can’t have it both ways, folks!

It also illustrates the possibilities of collective bargaining.  We may not agree with everything, even if we’re part of that collective bargaining group, but we joined the union, right?  We knew it was a case of the majority vote from the outset.  In most states, we also have the choice of working as a union member or non-union member at any company too.  Collective bargaining might not be perfect, but essentially, it’s a democratic process.  The majority rules.  Unions have made things better for many workers in the past century, and while they have often been accused of being part of the problem in the past thirty years, they still do a lot for their members.  That’s why workers join!

How can we bitch about something that is done as part of the democracy we hold dear?  There’s a lot of things in Washington D.C. that happen that are a helluva lot worse than anything that happened at that one plant in Tennessee that are far more in violation of the concept of “majority rules” and “Christian morality” .  Spend your time worrying about that.

A very long time ago, in another lifetime (or so it sometimes seems) I was an employee of the State of Arizona.  During this time span, Arizona combined Washington’s Day and Lincoln’s Day into President’s Day and created Civil Rights Day/Martin Luther King Day.  State employees didn’t gain an extra day off or an extra day’s pay, they just changed the names a bit, swapped the holidays around a bit, and called it a day.  Some claimed it wasn’t enough to recognize Martin Luther King, and grumbled.  Others said it was disrespectful of Washington and Lincoln and grumbled.  In the end, it made no difference at all to most people.

It’s the same thing with Tyson Foods.  In the end, it makes no difference at all to most people.  Seriously, trading Labor Day, which has little meaning for “Labor” in today’s society, for a religious holiday that has meaning for only a portion of the workers a month or so later probably makes very little difference to most people working there.  They still have to work.  Maybe they like having the extra pay in October, closer to Christmas.  In the long run, wasn’t it their choice anyhow?


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