About 190 workers, most of them Muslim immigrants from Somalia, were fired from their jobs at a meat packing and distribution plant in Colorado this week for walking off the job to protest a workplace prayer dispute.
Approximately 200 workers reportedly walked off of their jobs at Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan earlier this month to protest what they allege were changes made in times allowed for them to take breaks in order to participate in Islamic prayer.
According to the Denver Post, some workers later returned and were able to keep their jobs, but the majority stayed away in hopes of swaying management to reinstate a prayer schedule as representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)–an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation trial, which concerned fundraising for the Palestinian terror organization Hamas–negotiated on their behalf.
CAIR is also helping the aunt of a seven-month-old child left orphaned by radical jihadist couple who massacred 14 people and wounded 22 others in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino this month gain custody of the infant.
“They feel missing their prayer is worse than losing their job,” Jaylani Hussein, a spokesman and executive director of CAIR said. “It’s like losing a blessing from God.”
Salat is the obligatory Muslim prayer and the second Pillar of Islam, which is required to be performed five times a day by observant Muslims. Hussein reportedly said that the Muslims workers CAIR was negotiating on behalf of would pray at the plant multiple times a day in five-t0-10 minute blocks of time and alleged that the plant decided to change the practice. The Post notes that the time was carved out of a 15-minute break period or from the workers’ unpaid 30-minute lunch breaks.
“At no time did Cargill prevent people from prayer at Fort Morgan,” director of communications for Cargill, Mike Martin reportedly said. “Nor have we changed policies related to religious accommodation and attendance. This has been mischaracterized.” He added that accommodation on a daily basis is dependent upon changing factors in the plant, noting that this facet had been “clearly communicated to all employees.”
Martin also said that employees of all faiths are permitted to use a “reflection room” at the plant which observant Muslims also use to pray but noted the company’s policy that a maximum of two people are permitted to use the area at any given time in order to avoid slowing down production on the assembly line.
Over 2,000 people work at the plant. Cargill has a policy that prevents workers who are terminated from reapplying for a job there for 6 months. Hussein hopes Cargill will reconsider their policy and a teleconference on the issue is reportedly scheduled to take place next week.