Teamsters Statement On Suspended Muslim Workers.


HERTZ EMPLOYEES MOCKED, SUSPENDED FOR EXERCISING THEIR RIGHT TO PRAY
Updated On: Oct 07, 2011
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KOMO 4 Coverage of Wednesday’s Interfaith Prayer at Sea-Tac

Seattle Weekly coverage

Seattle Times coverage

Hertz Rent-a-Car has suspended at least 35 workers at Sea-Tac Airport for exercising their right to pray. Hertz initiated the mass suspensions on Friday, September 30 and targeted Shuttlers, who are responsible for transporting rental cars from Hertz’s headquarters to and from the airport. Approximately 70% of the Shuttlers employed by Hertz at the airport are Muslim.

“This is an outrageous assault on the rights of these workers and appears to be discriminatory based on their religious beliefs,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.

HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT FOR MUSLIM SHUTTLERS

At a meeting with Union officials on October 3, the suspended workers described a hostile work environment, in which Hertz management displayed disrespect for workers’ cultural customs and religious practices.

In one instance, a Hertz manager attempted to block a group of seven Somali women from accessing a designated prayer room.

“He stood in front of the prayer room with his arms fully extended. He said, ‘If you go and pray, I’m going to send you home.’ We managed to get into the prayer room, but while we were praying, they [Hertz management] were laughing and clapping their hands, mocking us,” said Maryan Muse a five-year Hertz employee.

RELIGIOUS LEADERS HOLD INTERFAITH PRAYER AT SEA-TAC

The suspended Hertz Shuttlers and their supporters gathered in front of the Hertz rental car counter at Sea-Tac on October 5, where community leaders led the group in an interfaith prayer:

PRAYER FOR HERTZ WORKERS
We are here together
To honor our beliefs
We are here together
To protect one another from harm
We are here together To show our commitment
To social justice
To economic justice
WE ARE HERE TOGETHER.

The group wore stickers reading, “Hertz: respect me, respect my religion” and held signs that read, “Hertz hurts my faith.” Afterwards, the group chanted, “We’ll be back!”

During the prayer activity, Hertz management was on hand, videotaping suspended workers in attendance. Teamsters Local 117 has filed charges with the NLRB, alleging that Hertz was engaging in unlawful surveillance with the intention to intimidate workers.

CHANGE IN WORKING CONDITIONS

The company began suspending workers after unilaterally implementing a change in working conditions requiring the Shuttlers to clock out when they pray. Muslim workers at Hertz have a longstanding practice of taking mini breaks during their shift to pray. Workers said that, during an 8-hour shift, they generally pray twice and that it typically takes between three to five minutes.

Under Washington State law, employees are entitled to two 10-minute breaks in an eight-hour shift. Union officials said that the company agreed in bargaining last year that its employees would not be required to clock out when they pray. “I have been working at the airport for 16 years and have never been required to clock out when I take my break to pray. I believe that Hertz is specifically singling us out because of our religion,” said Asha Farah.

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Posted on October 9, 2011, in Labor Relations and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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