Thursday, January 21, 2016

Muslim Prayer Breaks Disrupt Work Shifts at Wisconsin Plant

In some ways, I admire devout Muslims for praying five times a day.

I mean… Five times a day. That’s commitment! As a Christian, I sometimes have to force myself to pray just once a day, especially when that day is a weekend.

Admirable or not, however, the rigidity of when those Middle Eastern prayers have to be made isn’t necessarily compatible with American business. That’s what Ariens, a Wisconsin lawn mower and snow blower maker (that’s rather unfortunately named, given the circumstances), found out the hard way.

With some 53 staunchly Muslim Somalian refugees working at its plant, it initially allowed two additional five-minute breaks per shift for those employees. As of January 25, however, it’s changing its policy since the “manufacturing environment does not allow for unscheduled breaks in production.”

That was Ariens’ official statement on the subject, with CEO Dan Ariens adding, “If I’m on a team of assemblers of ten and two out, all ten of them have to stop, not just the two.” Moreover, “When the team sees that some are getting unscheduled breaks, paid or unpaid, it just doesn’t seem fair to the rest.”

Many of the Muslim workers, naturally, aren’t thrilled with that decision. Which I get. Really. The new policy makes it easier for Ariens at their expense.

However, Ariens is the one in charge. It’s the one with a bottom line to worry about, customers to satisfy and a larger workforce to take into account. So it’s well within its rights here, both from a legal and ethical standpoint.

Likewise, I’m not trying to be a jerk when I say these Muslim workers are now in the Christian-based America, not their native Somalia. If they want to stay here, they need to figure out how to do things the American way.

It’s either that, or they should leave.

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