Boots & Sabers

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1807, 17 Jan 16

Ariens Changes Break Rules and Faces Muslim Backlash

Here’s the story:

(WBAY) – Ariens Manufacturing changed its prayer-on-the-job policy Thursday, drawing pushback from dozens of Muslim employees who say they’re now out of a job.

Before this week, Somali Muslims employed by Ariens were allowed to leave the production line twice a shift to pray two of the five prayers their faith requires of them daily. They prayed five minutes at a time, designating their specific duties to colleagues.

A spokesperson for the Brillion-based equipment manufacturer said in a statement, in part:

We are asking employees to pray during scheduled breaks in designated prayer rooms. Our manufacturing environment does not allow for unscheduled breaks in production.”


According to law listed by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, “an employer does not have to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer… [such as] decreased efficiency” (read the law here).

It is both morally and economically beneficial for businesses to accommodate workers as much as possible. Especially when considering the limited labor pool in Brillion, it is clear that the company tried to make it work. But it didn’t. They do manufacturing, after all, and assembly lines to not facilitate people taking breaks like that without hurting production.

And now CAIR is getting involved to stir the pot. Expect accusations of Islamaphobia to follow shortly.

Hat tip Dad29.



1807, 17 January 2016


  1. Kevin Scheunemann

    With Al Jazeera shutting down, it’s clear companies bending over backwards for Islam point of view can create a PR problem in terms of company products.

  2. dad29

    It won’t be a PR problem. It will be an ‘equity’ problem with the other workers on the line.

  3. Mike

    Isn’t the extra work put on non-Muslims a form of the jizzya tax?

  4. Steve Austin

    I guess I’m trying to wrap my head around how a manufacturing employer in the Fox Valley has 53 Somali’s employed in their operation.

    So many questions, so few answers.

    1) Are these all US citizens?
    2) Is the unemployment rate in the Appleton area 0%?
    3) What are the hourly wages for these jobs?
    4) Can’t Ariens attract Wisconsin workers for these jobs
    5) Is the employ of these Somali’s the only way Ariens feels they can compete internationally.

    I sense I don’t want to know the answers to these questions other than this is a symptom of a very serious problem in America. i.e. why we are importing people from a foreign country into Wisconsin to do manufacturing work.

  5. Northern Pike

    It seems to me the conservative position ought to be pretty straightforward: You work under the hours and conditions your employer sets for you.

    It should apply to Muslims and their prayer schedule.

    It should apply to a pharmacist whose boss tells him to fill a birth control prescription.

  6. dad29

    Steve, the company has two plants up there: one for fabrication, the other for assembly. The assembly plant is low-skilled, by and large. Not too easy to find 150 people up there; there are a lot of higher-skilled and higher-paying places to work. Oshkosh Truck–even though it’s across the lake–has attracted a lot of people and it’s going great guns (cough) with military contracts; Kohler is a union shop with good pay, and Green Bay/Appleton still have a lot of paper jobs which are relatively high-paying. So basic labor is not easy to find.

    Ariens is in a VERY competitive market and it’s not hard to find a ‘brand-name’ mower/blower for less in most hardware stores. While direct-labor cost is not a significant part of the cost of goods, it will make a difference which will be noticed at the retail selling level.

  7. Steve Austin

    Dad29–thanks for the update.

    Obviously want Ariens to succeed. Just have mixed emotions about the long-term benefit of importing third-world workers (again are these US citizens at this plant? If not how did they arrive in the US?).

    Just struggling with taking wages to rock bottom in our world of excess capacity and lack of environmental and worker protections in China and other places. In the meantime US citizens either can’t find work or get so many government benefits they won’t work. So US companies “import” cheap foreign workers and that creates issues like this.

    This isn’t going to end well for us.

  8. dad29

    Ariens certainly is not “importing” these workers; most likely they arrived in the usual way, applying for admittance, etc., etc. Prolly not yet citizens, but who knows?

    So long as “lowest price” rules the retail marketplace, Ariens and other companies (see, e.g., GM, Ford, Chrysler, Briggs/Stratton, etc.) WILL make goods offshore OR push for lower-cost labor, just like your landscaper and housepainter will find (illegal) aliens.

    Chicken? Egg?

  9. John Foust

    I wonder if Ariens does anything like what I saw at Briggs & Stratton. B&S took advantage of Federal programs to subsidize the wage of foreign workers in the guise of college students looking for summer jobs.

  10. dad29

    Different program, John.

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