Springdale, Arkansas – August 4, 2008 – Contrary to recent reports, Labor Day is still a holiday at Tyson Foods. This issue concerns only the plant at Shelbyville, TN. The majority of employees at the Tyson plant in Shelbyville, TN, are represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union (RWDSU), an American union that asked for and received Eid al-Fitr, as one of their eight paid holidays, in place of Labor Day. This applies only to the Shelbyville plant and resulted as part of the union contract negotiated last fall. This change does not apply to Tyson Foods' other 118 plants. This is not a religious accommodation, rather, it is part of a union-initiated contract demand.
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. 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 then overwhelmingly agreed to by 80 percent of the rank and file membership of the union at the Shelbyville plant.
The Muslim population at the Shelbyville plant is primarily composed of approximately 250 Somali employees, who are political refugees, most of whom came to the plant as a result of refugee resettlement efforts based in Nashville. They were employed at the plant through the Tennessee Department of Employment Security office.
The Shelbyville complex employs approximately 1,200 people. Approximately 1,000 workers are covered by the union agreement at Shelbyville.
Contact: Libby Lawson, Tyson Foods, Inc.