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Muslim workers at JBS Swift walk out over prayer breaks

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More than 200 Muslim workers walked out of the Greeley plant of meat processor JBS Swift & Co. in September to protest the company’s refusal to allow prayer breaks at sunset, a required ritual during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

More than 100 were fired for walking off the job and not returning.

Swift spokeswoman Tamara Smid said the company had already accommodated the workers by moving lunch breaks on the evening shift from 9 p.m. to 8 p.m. When workers said 8 p.m. was too late for the sunset prayer, the company moved the break back to 7:45, only to set off a counterprotest from non-Muslim workers whose schedules were also affected.

The Commercial Workers Local 7 union has filed grievances on behalf of the fired workers.

Meanwhile, company officials scrambled to find a schedule that would satisfy workers and keep production rolling.

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