Days after demonstrating with the SEIU Local 26 union, several Muslim cabin cleaners have returned to their jobs. They say they were fired on Friday, September 28 for taking a few minutes for daily prayer. Their employer, U.S. Aviation, is still insisting that they weren’t.
On Tuesday afternoon, the workers and SEIU gathered outside of Delta’s office to rally for better pay and a union for airport workers. This was a day of action planned far in advance, but the preceding Friday’s incident shifted the focus of the event to include protecting the workers’ religious freedom.
It wasn’t until the rally that the union and the workers say they got wind that U.S. Aviation was claiming there never was a firing, that the workers were welcome to return. At the time, nobody was sure what was going to happen.
Now SEIU has announced that the majority returned to work last Wednesday, and a U.S. Aviation spokesperson says one returned as early as Tuesday afternoon.
The company is sticking to its version of the story. No one was fired. The workers, the spokesperson says, are all “on their regularly scheduled days going forward this week.”
That’s all well and good, the SEIU statement says. But if the workers weren’t fired, that was “surprising” news to them – they couldn’t even report for duty if asked to without their badges and uniforms. And furthermore, all this “didn’t need to happen.”
“No matter where we work or what faith we practice, no Minnesotan should have to fear for their jobs or be disrespected at work because of their desire to worship in the way they choose in their free time,” it says.
The union is still going to push for a $15 minimum wage for airport workers, and for the manager involved in the incident be “removed from his position.”