Iraqi Labor Reps East Coast Tour (including DC, NYC, Philly)

Iraqi Labor Reps Speak in Philadelphia

September 21, 7:00-9:00 pm at Friends Meeting House
Address: 4th & Arch Streets, Philadelphia, PA

CONTACT: Denice Lombard (202) 320-5588, denicez@verizon.net

Aaron Huges (217) 898-9083, aarhughes@gmail.com

Iraqi Labor Reps Speak on East Coast Tour on Their Way to National AFL-CIO Convention

Iraqi Labor leaders hope to make their case about the lack of labor rights in Iraq to audience of U.S. union reps and war veterans in Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

In celebration of Labor Day, Five Iraqi labor federation leaders (bios below) representing the largest unions in Iraq will make their case for expanded labor rights in their country to U.S. Labor leaders, war veterans and peace groups. During the tour, they also will collect signatures on a petition to Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, calling on her to speak out about Iraqi labor rights and press the Iraqi government to respect and protect the rights of workers and unions. The tour is being hosted by U.S. Labor Against the War and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

TOUR SCHEDULE

New York City
September 17, 7:00 - 9:00 PM - 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
Address: 310 West 43rd Street, New York, NY
September 18, 12:00 - 2:00 PM - 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
Address: 310 West 43rd Street, New York, NY

Philadelphia

September 21, 7:00-9:00 pm at Friends Meeting House
Address: 4th & Arch Streets, Philadelphia, PA

Interpreters will be available at all events.

BRIEF BIOS on IRAQI LABOR LEADERS

Hassan Juma’a Awad, President, Iraq Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU)

Hassan Juma’a has worked in the Southern Oil Company's technical unit in Basra for 36 years. He was elected President of the General Union of Oil Employees in 2003, and became President of Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions in 2006. He was among 20 activists who formed the first union committee in the Southern Oil Company in the first 11 days after the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Falah Alwan, President, Federation of Worker's Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI)

Falah Alwan was an underground labor activist throughout the 1990s, working in textile and factories and retail stores until the invasion in 2003. Alwan was among the founders of the Union of the Unemployed and subsequently of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, of which he now serves as President. He is currently employed as a store keeper at the General Company of Cotton Industries in Baghdad (part of the Ministry of Industry).

Rasim Al-Awady, President, General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW)

Rasim Al Awady has served as President of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW) since 2005. Prior to this post, Al Awady was President of one of the three federations created by workers after the 2003 invasion of Iraq that later merged to form the GFIW. In the 1970s he served as Vice President for the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU) in Cairo, and later as International Affairs Officer for an Iraqi labor federation.

Nabeel Mulhim, Foreign Affairs Officer, Kurdish General Workers Syndicates in Iraq (KGWSI)

Nabil Mulhim is a member of the Executive Committee of the Kurdish General Workers Syndicates in Iraq and also serves as the Foreign Affairs Officer at the federation. Born in Erbil, he speaks fluent Arabic along with Kurdish which is his mother tongue.

Sardar Mohammed, President, Iraqi Kurdish Workers Syndicates and Unions (IKWSU)

Sardar Mohammed, President of Iraqi Kurdish Workers Syndicates and Unions, lives in Suleimaniya. He has recently been elected to be a workers representative in the Kurdistan Parliament and is determined to play a role in promoting labor rights and raising awareness, especially for workers in the public sector.

BACKGROUND:

Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Saddam Hussein’s 1987 law barring labor unions and collective bargaining in all public sector and enterprise workplaces has remained in effect. Iraqi unions have organized without the protection of a basic labor law, even though the Iraqi constitution requires one and Iraq is signatory to the International Labor Organization Convention on the right to organize and bargain. Union leaders and activists have faced harassment, beatings, detention, torture and even assassination. Union offices have been raided and vandalized by US and Iraqi troops. Union bank accounts and assets have been frozen. Iraqi unions have managed to continue organizing despite these obstacles.

In March 2009, Iraq Veterans Against the War representative, Aaron Hughes, joined with a delegation organized by U.S. Labor Against the War to attend the First Iraqi Labor Conference in Erbil, Iraq. Over 200 labor leaders from labor unions representing various sectors of the Iraqi economy Iraq attended, including energy and agriculture. There, they heard first-hand about the conditions of workers in Iraq post-U.S. invasion, and the role of unions in re-building Iraqi infrastructure and promoting civil society and democracy while still under U.S. occupation.

Further References

See www.ivaw.org for a list of links to reference articles