Tuesday, August 5, 2008

BOYCOTT Tyson Foods: Tyson Food Provides Observance of Islamic Holiday Instead of Labor Day

Tyson Food Makes Chicken $#@# out of Chicken Salad in Holiday Observance

Tyson Foods has elected to give its employees at their Shelbyville, TN plant a paid day off for Eid al-Fitr, the Moslem holiday which marks the end of Ramadan. The Islamic holiday will be honored in place of the Federal holiday, Labor Day. The plant of 1,200 workers has approxiately 700 Somali immigrants on its workforce who negotiated this change through their union.
For more information, check the following article from World Net Daily. There are numerous articles on the Internet about this.


Right Minded Fellow appreciates the vital role immigrants play in our society, deplores immigrant bashing and much of the hate rhetoric directed toward visitors and citizens from foreign lands, and embraces President Bush's concept of a "welcoming" society. RMF also deplores in the strongest terms illegal immigration particularly the employers who lure foreign citizens to work in the United States illegally exploiting their victims with substandard wages, un-American working conditions, and exposure to all kinds of risks to their health and safety.

RMF believes it is every person who intends to call the United States of America his or her home must learn English and should participate in cultural celebrations, honoring American holidays, and learning American history along with the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. It is the immigrants' responsibility to assimilate into American culture not for American business to assimilate to foreign cultures except to the extent that employers can help support its immigrant work force become educated in those subjects that will help them live productive American lives. RMF also supports unconditionally the Constitution's provisions regarding that Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion or the free expression there of. This logic also provides sound guidance for corporate policy. Companies should be tolerant of the various religious beliefs of its employees allowing employees to feel comfortable and unthreatened about their beliefs but making specific provisions to accomdate the rituals of an individual religion that impinges on the normal daily work routine where practictioners are granted special favors such as specific break time for religious reasons which is above and beyond break time provided workers as part their daily schedule is unacceptable. In a company's employee compensation package provisions for vacation and personal days should be flexible to allow people of faith the ability to take time off for religious observances that aren't part of the regular company calendar. This approach has worked effectively to give Catholics time to observe Ash Wednesdays and Jews to observe their high holy days. Such sensitivity should also be observed in accomodating Moslems or members of any other less commonly observed faith. Denying American employees from observing a long standing American holiday for the sake of a minority religious holiday is wrong and perhaps shows political correctness running absolutely crazy.
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Tyson Food has its American customer base, largely Christian, and many who have serious concerns about the spread of a religion that is quick to demand special accomodation while showing little evidence of vocally policing its own ranks when followers of that religion have resorted to rioting and terrorism in the name of Allah. While Christians and Jews routinely tolerate the satire and often outright abuse of their religious icons, western society is also aware of the riots that swept Europe when a Danish cartoonist mocked Mohammed showing some of the contradictions of the religion versus how some of its members use it it justify horror. When we consider the vile depiction of Jesus in some recent modern art displays some funded by the National Endowment for the Arts including the infamous work of Andres Serrano which includes the image of Jesus submerged in urine. Our tax dollars through the NEA paid for that attrocity!
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In the current culture of political correct, elitist, left-wing, anti-American extremism, attrocities against the religions practiced by the vast majority of Americans are common place. Students of science quickly learn atheistic views are at least implied in the lab environment. People of faith who assert themselves in the wrong public settings are vilified, ignored, and pushed out of any public arena while some of the same public organizations who'd ban displays of the ten commendments or other personal religious artifacts, entertain proposals for providing feet washing stations, designated prayer areas aligned to face Mecca, and even providing or storing prayer rugs for Islamic believers. How can the attack on traditional passive icons recognizing Christianity and Judaism be oppressed where even traditional Christmas decorations are increasingly being prohibitted be seen as justified just as all kinds of accomodations are being provided for the religion observed by governments, terrorist groups, and cults sworn to kill us? RMF acknowledges most Moslems particularly residing in America deplore terrorism and are just as American as the next guy. Accomodation for their religious activities should be no more or less than what Christians and Jews enjoy.

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The actions supported by Tyson Foods Shelbyville, TN operation has leaped way over the line against traditional American values and in support of recognizing the rituals of one religion over other relgions.

RMF cannot justify supporting Tyson's with his customer choices and asks his audience to do the same. Why not consider Purdue product, a Maryland company and major employer on Maryland's lower Eastern Shore. Perdue Farms is an active corporate citizen in the region sponsoring the DelMarVa Shorebird's stadium and providing significant contributions to Salisbury University and Wor Wic Community College.

Disclaimer: The author of Right Minded Fellow and members of his immediate family are not employees of or contract with Perdue Farms. Nothing written in this piece suggests in any way there is a connection between Tyson Foods and disgraced boxer, Mike Tyson. We do not imply or suggest that the Food companty has anything to do with the criminal and anti-social behavior of the fallen heavy-weight champion.

6 comments:

Buddy said...

RFM, I don't agree with your assessment of this situation. I would not lay the blame on Tyson Foods. This was part of a negotiated 5 year labor agreement, not simple decision to give the employees off on a religious high holy day. Lay the blame on the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union who asked for this concession. Plain and simple. Had Tyson negotiated "personal days" as you suggested, there would be no way Tyson could properly plan production on that day with over 50% of the labor force out on "personal leave". So, with than being said, while I won't lay the blame on Tyson, you won't find me supporting a union or celebrating Eid al-Fitr either.

Right Minded Fellow said...

Having served on the executive board of a local union and also its negotiations commission, I am aware that unions can come up with some rather whacky ideas that go on to the bargaining table. Most of them got the swift, "You've got to be kidding response." Management would call our bluff every time. We were a public employees union and couldn't strike just hold symbollic job actions so they could probably be tougher on us, but on this issue, I would expect Tyson's just to say, forget it!

I am perfectly happy to whack the union around too. I've grown a lot since my days as a union person and see most of modern labor as counterproductive and self-serving against the real needs of employees.

You're probably right about my suggestion on personal days.Where I've seen it employeed was in white collar professional settings not where a production line must be maintained. There has to be some kind of reasonable accomodation.

Given the ACLU and secular activists' growing influence, one has to wonder when they'll start challenging Christmas as a holiday that unfairly shows preference to Christianity even though it's the one day of the year where businesses most consistently are closed. Not even New Year's Day or Thanksgiving come close anymore. It's my perception that over the last couple decades far fewer companies honor Good Friday which normally matches Passover. I remember when I was young, Good Friday was a very quiet day. That's a shame not just from a religious sense, but it's a long haul from MLK's birthday or President's day to Memorial Day for even the secular humanist.The bean counters are kick to point out the apparent cost to the bottom line of adding holidays, but there's a human cost to consider too. Happier employees who have more time with their families just might be a little more charged up at work.

I say this perfectly willing to piss off atheists, but for all their activists complaining about the impositions of the spiritual minority, I've never heard any bitch about getting December 25th off or refuse a Christmas gift.

Back to the original issue, from my standpoint, excluding one of the seven or eight national holidays to honor a religion with which I have a lot of serious problems morally, politically, and philosophically really turns me off. How to address this in the proper context in the public policy debate is a much tougher manner.

As much as I think religion is best kept low key in the work place, there are some companies like Chick-a-fil and Interstate Batteries that are explicitly Christian as there are some Kosher businesses likewise explicitly Jewish that are very upfront in their orientation, state affirmatively their religious conviction, and make it clear that they run a Christian or a Jewish business. How comforting and wonderful that could be for people of faith to work for companies that allow them to work in harmony with their spiritual beings. Again, some might follow the ACLU approach and see that as discriminatory, but it's a person's choice whether to work at Chick-a-fil's or Taco Bell. If a company is upfront about what their mission is, I think that's fair. Why couldn't Interstate Batteries for instance tell prospective employees, we respect your right to hold your own beliefs, but if you work for us, this is how we run our shop. Remember, it's against the law for employers to ask applicants anything about their religion. I'm waiting for when they apply that standard to churchs that get public money for community services. "So rabbi, how long have you wanted to be a Catholic priest?" I can almost hear Jackie Mason's jokes about it now.

Politically, I understand Moslems must not be persecuted for their religious beliefs. Personally, I see Mohammed as the ultimate example of a Biblical false prophet. His life story as a warrior and one who had many wives sets him up as a figure to be reviled not worshiped. While some might point to contradictions and apparently intolerant views in Judeo-Christian scriptures, much of that is a matter of misinterpretation and not understanding the Bible in its historic context.

In the harsh political realities of today's world, one of the most obvious differences between the majority of Christians and Moslems is how they deal with extreme elements who profess to follow their faith. Christians almost universally deplore emphatically the actions of the Westboro church that demonstrates and taunts the mourners at soldiers' funerals. Likewise, the actions of extremist cults is likewise condemned forcefully. However, especially given the extent to which the newsmedia goes out of its way to be sympathetic to Islam including guidelines from the Society of Professional Journalism which includes imploring reporters not to use the word, jihad, as they interpret it to mean a "campaign of self-improvement," surely if there were widespread condemnation of terrorism, the riots against the Danish Cartoonist, and the brutal honor killings of female family members, it would be reported by the mainstream media.

I'd just like to point out to these Ivory Tower elitists, that the term "jihad" is consistently used in the taking up of arms in the name of Allah and justification for terrorism. I do not see eleven young Moslems murdering and torturing American citizens to hijack airliners that were used as weapons to kill approximately 3,000 of our people a self-improvement program.

Yes, America does have the horrible shame of overreacting in horrible ways against minority populations during war such as the Japanese prison camps during World War II where fully Americanized, loyal citizens of Japanese origins were held captive during the war. That kind of herd mentality is always possible when fervor against an enemy rises too high. There's also the specter of McCarthyism. One can only hope that some of the whacky over compensation toward our adversaries might be over reaction to things that happened in fairly recent history. Hopefully, the extreme over sensitivity toward Islam and some radical sects will soon be dealt with in a more rational, pragmatic way.

Regardless, the situation in Shelbyville is enough for me to employ my personal sense of dollar democracy and vote against what Tyson Foods agreed to with its labor union particularly when the alternative is a high quality Maryland product (which admittedly I'd want to buy anyway). I wish I could exercise greater dollar democracy against all the Chinese finished goods that dominate the retail market in today's world. I'm sure my sensibilities against Communist China will get quite a boost from their getting more attention with the upcoming Olympic events.

Buddy said...

RMF, I started to ponder your comment of "seven or eight national holiday". I almost started to agree with you whole heartily. However, this lead me to do some very brief research.

There are no real "national holidays" in the United States of America. There are 10 "Federal Holidays" (http://www.opm.gov/Operating_Status_Schedules/fedhol/2008.asp) in which all Federal employees have off. Many state and local governments observe these dates as holidays as well. Many businesses follow the Federal, state or local holidays as a matter of course of doing business effectively. There is nothing codified that states that all citizens must be granted the first Monday in September (or any other day) off from work.

With that being said, I'll still use my PTO to take the first Monday of September off from work. However, you will see me hard at work on Columbus Day as well as days that my Muslim and Jewish co-workers choose to take off.

Right Minded Fellow said...

I probablty did not make my notion of "national" holidays clear. I meant the ones that have been established by act of Congress like MLK day. Of course, the same status applies to Christmas much to the disdain of radical secularists.

Plesse share with us the distinctions you've found. There are the ones Congress has recognized as holidays. Are they the same as "government holidays" the ones that close government offices, the post office and banks?

All I know is having taught school in Baltimore County and working in the private sector, what are holidays the big boss recognizes for his employees is a different matter.

I don't like the government getting involved with mandating lots of things, so this is more a suggestion or a hope. I am very liberal on the issue of holidays. Bean counters are quick to produce figures on how costly days' off are, but my common sense leads me to some other conclusions.

A happy, charged up work force is a productive work force. Our holidays seem to fall in clumps. There's Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Martin Luther King in rapid succession, then the long stretch for many until Memorial Day which is not far from 4th of July.

In the ideal scheme, there would be something about every ten to twelve weeks.

There are two issues at play. what holdidays should companies provide as days off, and what is the proper way to handle indvidual circumstances, personal days, religious observances, opening day for baseball, the Monday after the Super Bowl, and all that.

I'd love to see some stats on workforce performance the Monday after the Super Bowl. The absentee rate must be sky high. What's the error rate and other things that reflect badly on productivity?

I'm not suggesting we should recognize a day for people to nurture hangovers, that would let a horrible genie out of the bottle as surely the next days to follow that would be March 18th for St. Patrick's Day and November 1 for Halloween.

Meanwhile, Chicken's on my shopping list. It won't be Tyson!

Buddy said...

Dear RMF,

I fear that my time available to invest into researching this topic is too limited to provide you with a complete understanding of why there is no such thing as a "National Holiday", why there are "Federal Holidays", what "Bank Holidays" are and how all of these vary from "State and Local Government holidays". As such, you'll need to do a little digging into the references I provide.

There is no such thing as a "National Holiday" in the United States. Quite often the "Federal Holidays" are referred to as "National Holidays". However, these "Federal Holidays" only apply to Federal Government employees and the District of Columbia. See the following links:

http://clerkkids.house.gov/laws/inspectLaw/inspect_TextAll.html

http://clerkkids.house.gov/laws/inspectLaw/inspect_Holidays.html

"Bank Holidays" are established by the various Federal Reserve Banks to be followed by thier member banks. Note the following link for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta:

http://www.frbatlanta.org/invoke.cfm?objectid=A35367B1-1354-11D5-93310020352A7A95&method=display

With regards to "State and Local Government Holidays", each state has the right to determine was holidays to recognize. Take for instance, note the information in the link below for state employees in Maryland:

http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/01glance/html/holidaye.html

There is nothing codified in Federal code that commands private sector employers to grant a specific day off as a regular Holiday. However, the President can demand a "general cessation of business". I'm having trouble finding good references on the topic of how a President can demand a "general cessation of business". However, it is referenced in the link above for Maryland State employees holidays and the following judgment by The Supreme Court Of Appeals Of West Virginia.

http://www.state.wv.us/WVSCA/DOCS/Spring98/24155.htm

I hope this helps. You may need to research some more to get clarification to your questions. In the mean time, do you mind passing me a piece of that chicken you are eating?

Right Minded Fellow said...

Wow, that's an impressive body of research on holidays. I'll see what conclusions I can draw. What had me on the notion of national holidays was two fold. First, much was made of John McCain at first opposing the establishment of Martin Luther King's birthday as a "Federal Holiday." I also remember there was a lot or rumbling about Senators who wouldn't vote in support. This was in the early 80's. Second, in his criticism of "SP's" secular progressives, Bill O'Reilly spoke on this issue as it pertains to Christmas in criticizing how certain extremists groups like the ACLU were using all means at their disposal to get Christmas removed from the public square trumping up the first amendment as their justification. Mr. Bill turned the tables on them by pointing out that removing Christmas from the public square is denying the majority population their opportunity for "the free expression thereof." Further, O'Reilly went on to contend that at one time Congress saw that Christmas was not only a religious celebration, it was an event of overwhelming secular importances as well arguing that Jesus as a historic figure and what he represented going through how a number of notions in the Declaration of Independence were a direct reflection of Christian values. Thus, these connections among others reasons was why Christmas was voted on to be a "National" holiday.

Perhaps, this all boils down to legislation is required to designate what days Federal employees have off. It surely wouldn't be by executive order. Naturally, Congress is quite skillful at voting for plenty of time off for members of their bodies. You know during this August recess they're hard at work identifying needs working with their constituents back home. (HAR-HAR)