Union workers at a Tennessee Tyson Food poultry factory will not get paid to barbecue chicken this Labor Day. A new five-year contract makes a paid holiday substitution, trading Labor Day for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr. Instead of marking the end of summer, the employees will mark the end of Ramadan.
The Tennessee plant has 700 Muslim workers, out of 1,200 total. Tyson says the switch has nothing to do with religion, but is instead a contractual agreement (which only applies to union members) reached because the majority of the workers asked for it. Union leaders and supportive employees think it makes sense to accommodate the Muslim workers, too.
Other workers lament the loss of an "American holiday," and it appears that they are not alone. Some in the community are calling for a boycott of all Tyson products, arguing that immigrants need to adapt to the American way of life.
Should Tyson keep Labor Day no matter what, give employees an option to choose between the two holidays, or simply meet the contractual desires of the majority of workers, who are ready to give up Labor Day?