GREELEY, Colo. (AP) -- About 150 people gathered at a downtown park in Greeley to protest meatpacking plant JBS Swift & Co.'s accommodations for workers fasting during the Muslim observance of Ramadan.
Leaders at the gathering Monday at Lincoln Park hoped to hear from company officials Tuesday about their request for workers' lunch breaks to coincide with sunset, when those not haven't eaten or had anything to drink since sunrise could break their fast.
Many of those at the park were Somalis, who have recently relocated to Greeley.
Some at the park said they were not reporting for their shift Monday evening.
About 300 workers walked out of the meatpacking plant Friday hours before their shifts were to end.
"Friday evening, a group of employees left work without proper authorization," Swift spokeswoman Tamara Smid said in a statement. "The matter was discussed with their union representatives and the company took appropriate action. JBS Swift desires to accommodate the religious practices of all employees, which includes its Muslim employees, provided it can do so reasonably, safely and without undue burden."
Swift worker and group spokesman Graen Isse said they supplied their grievances to Swift in writing and were hoping to hear from them Tuesday morning.
"I believe (the workers) will be back to their jobs," Isse said.
Ramadan is the Muslim holy month based on the Muslim calendar, ending with the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
Swift has hired hundreds of east African immigrants and refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrean, Sudan, Cameroon and the Congo in the past two years, many who are Muslim. It has also added 1,300 jobs on a second shift.
About 1,100 Somalis have come to Colorado in the last year as part of a United Nations resettlement program for refugees.
The plant was the site of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in December 2006 where 270 Latino employees were detained. The majority of workers at the plant are Latino.