GREELEY, Colo. (AP) -- A union representing Muslim workers at a JBS Swift & Co. meatpacking plant plans to file grievances over the firing of more than 100 workers in a dispute over religious accommodations, a spokesman said Wednesday.
At issue is a request by Muslim workers to be able to take lunch breaks at sunset to end their fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. As many as 300 workers walked out of JBS Swift & Co. on Friday before their shifts ended, and the union had been in talks with the company.
Many of the workers were suspended. Swift spokeswoman Tamara Smid said in a written statement Wednesday the workers were told they would be fired if they didn't report to work when recalled. Smid didn't specify how many workers were fired. She said the company adjusted the workers' breaks by more than an hour to accommodate them.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 spokesman Manny Gonzales said Wednesday that 130 to 150 workers from JBS Swift & Co. were fired. He said the union would file grievances against the company.
The firings came a day after representatives from the union met with Swift officials to discuss workers' concerns.
But many of the workers who gathered at a Greeley park on Tuesday expressed their dissatisfaction with negotiations by saying, "No prayer, no work."
Last year, in Grand Island, Neb., dozens of workers also quit their jobs at a Swift & Co. meatpacking plant because of the same concerns. A union spokesman said then that 94 workers there had quit, but the company said it was about 70 people. More than a week later, several of the workers returned.