BREAKING: Muslim Jennie-O Employees on Strike Amid Allegations of Discrimination

A group of Muslim workers did not start their 1 pm shift today at a Jennie-O plant in Melrose, Minnesota. Instead they went on strike over allegations of discrimiation. They are claiming that management is not responsive to their needs and are instead changing long-held practices. 
In interviews posted to the Facebook page of the Greater Minnesota Worker Center workers discussed a particularly problematic manager who threatened to throw them out of the plant after workers tried to resolve their concerns in a meeting. 
Workers have been at the plant for many years. 
Interviewed over Facebook Live Mohammed Abdi explained that he has been at Jennie-O since 2015. He appreciated working at Jennie-O because they allowed him to pray during his shift. He alleges that when the company moved to a new facility, they started changing policy regarding prayers. Muslim workers were told that they could not have their regular prayer times. Instead, they were told they have to wait for a scheduled break. Abdi explained that the scheduled breaks do not align with prayer times. 
“I love my job, but I have been forced out because of the prayer time. If we can not be allowed to pray on time even though we love our job, it would be difficult for us to work here. “
Abdi would like to return to the prior practice of allowing Muslim workers to punch out at the appropriate prayer times. 
Attempts to reach Jennie-O for comment were directed to their parent company, Hormel. An email contained the following statement.
“Today, we received a letter from a group of team members from our Melrose facility. The claims made in the letter do not reflect the values of Jennie-O Turkey Store. We have always been proud of being a workplace that meets the needs of all of our team members. As such, we have launched an immediate investigation and we are scheduling a meeting with the team members to better understand their concerns. We are confident that this issue will be resolved immediately.

Filiberto Nolasco Gomez is a former union organizer and former editor of Minneapolis based Workday Minnesota, the first online labor news publication in the state. Filiberto focused on longform and investigative journalism. He has covered topics including prison labor, labor trafficking, and union fights in the Twin Cities.

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