CAIR is a busy little beaver in Greeley, CO

In all the hullabloo yesterday over the Swift meatpacking plant controversy in Grand Island, NE, I missed an update from Greeley, CO where Swift fired Somali workers last week when they failed to show up for work.  So, here is what was happening in Greeley according to a Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) lawyer in from Chicago to make sure the Somalis get what they want.

Rima Kapitan, with CAIR’s Chicago office, on Wednesday met with Muslim workers recently fired by JBS Swift. She said CAIR is coordinating with an attorney retained by about 60 of the fired workers.

Here then are some nuggets of information offered by Kapitan to the Greeley Tribune:

*   Kapitan said more talks are planned this week between CAIR and national officials with the United Food and Commercial Workers, the union that represents production workers at Swift.

*   “We’ve been in contact (with JBS Swift) since about a year ago and proposed a number of possible solutions, or adjustments, that would accommodate the workers and not impose undue burden on Swift, but these offers have been unsuccessful so far,” Kapitan said.

*    In Greeley, Kapitan said some of the roughly 120 Muslim workers fired on Sept. 10 have starting looking elsewhere for work.

*   “A lot of them are demoralized,” she said. “A lot of them moved from out of state to work here, and they’re just asking for a few minutes a day to pray.”

*    While CAIR has filed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission-related grievances against the Grand Island plant, Kapitan said, none to her knowledge have been filed in Greeley. [See CAIR and the EEOC here.]

*    Kapitan said CAIR has notified the attorney representing the Greeley workers that it’s willing to help on behalf of the fired workers.

And then here is a gem: 

“We’re here to defend an American ideal, and it’s an American ideal that people from different faiths should be able to practice their faiths in this country,” she said.

If you are lost in this story, go to our special category which now has 30 posts in two weeks to help you sort it out.

The latest news from Grand Island: Calm before a storm?

Update September 22nd:  Veiled threats from Somali community organizers?

Update September 21st:  Some thoughts from me about this whole issue.

Update September 20th:   Now the Cubans are coming.

Evening update:   Reports first said 50-80 quit, now reports say 150 Somalis quit or were fired.

Update, later in the afternoon:   A bunch of Somalis quit.

Update:   More details from the Grand island Independent.  This report says there was violence Thursday.

Reports Thursday night from workers at the scene indicated that a fight broke out between about 20 to 30 Somalian and Hispanic workers, but that the scuffle was under control in less than half an hour. A police team was called to Swift about 9 p.m. and entered the building. Shortly after, a group of Somalian workers were seen exiting Swift from north side doors and heading toward the parking lots.

But, the next report  says police deny violence— just a verbal altercation.

Update:  Today’s AP story is here:

Jacinto Guerrero kept in his pocket a list of needs, a scrap of paper containing words scribbled in Spanish. Breaks at normal times, no religious discrimination, same benefits and privileges, it read.

Guerrero said he comes to work to do his job and so should everyone else.

“You and your religion – it’s between you and God,” he said. “You don’t need to show it to everybody.”



While I slept, Blulitespecial did a roundup of the news out of Grand Island, NE.   Bottomline, who knows what is going to happen today after managers at the Swift meatpacking plant rescinded an earlier decision to accommodate mostly Somali workers’ demands for shift changes in order for them to pray at exactly the time they want during Ramadan.   Most of the other non-Muslim workers walked out in protest.  Guess you can’t run a plant with over 1000 workers walking out! 

This is from a local TV station (Warning:  Contains Somali community organizer alert!):

The company scrapped the break change.

But now Muslim Somalian workers are back where they started when they walked out of work Monday.

“They told us that they went 360 degrees, you know. They told us no break at 7:30pm. They have to go back to 8:30pm,” said Abeisamad Jama, a Grand Island Muslim community leader.

The same time it was when Somalian workers walked out.

“I think this is not going to be over. Nobody’s going to let it go like this. We’re going to pray our religion and we’re going to practice wherever we are no matter what,” said Jama.

And, then this from the Omaha World-Herald:

GRAND ISLAND – Amid a fourth day of walkouts at a Grand Island meatpacking plant, managers Thursday discarded a compromise designed to accommodate Muslim employees’ prayers during the holy month of Ramadan.

“It was a compromise that people thought would work for everyone. It didn’t,” said Dan Hoppes, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local No. 22. “Everything will go back to the way it was.”

The workday began Thursday with a majority of first-shift workers walking off the job at the JBS Swift & Co. meatpacking plant.

A total of 1,000 employees walked out during the first shift Wednesday and the second shift Thursday. A call to JBS Swift officials was not returned Thursday.

One non-Muslim protester said she is angry because the company gave in so easily to Somali demands:

Counterprotester Veronica Yebra said management Thursday was telling workers to “get through the nine days” left of Ramadan and then the plant schedule would return to normal.  [This time it’s just nine days, just nine days of accommodation, then what?  More demands for another accommodation, maybe a paid holiday for the last day of Ramadan?  And so it goes.]

“I’m not upset with the Somalians,” Yebra said. “It’s the company – the decision. They gave in so easy. We have Hispanics and Vietnamese and Laotians. It affects all of us, and we want the same opportunity for everyone.”

And then how is this for jaw-dropping:

Sudanese protester Gatluak Wuol from the second shift wanted to distinguish his culture as being different from the Muslim workers from Somalia.

“We have a different religion. I’m Christian,” Wuol said. “We support this (the counterprotest) because we need equal rights.”

The whole situation left Hoppes bewildered.

“I don’t know what happened,” Hoppes said. “I think we have problems between races.”

NOOOOOO!  Mr. Hoppes, we don’t have problems between races!  Just say it, why is everyone so chicken?  We have problems between Islam, and Muslim demands that we accommodate them, and everyone else.

What we are seeing in Greeley and Grand Island is a probe.   And, so far, it seems to me that the Somali Muslims have overplayed their hand (more on that later).   I guess the Somalis and their community organizers figured the folks working in real jobs, like meatpacking, were going to roll over like the Washington elitists running the government.  It looks like they figured wrong.

To follow all of the goings-on in Greeley, CO and Grand Island, NE see our whole category on this two-week-old saga.

And, finally, what the heck it could be worse, we could be in Greece.