Iraqi labor leaders to tour US

From US Labor Against the War (USLAW), May 9:

Leading Iraqi Labor Leaders to Tour U.S.
First woman union leader, head of oil workers union to visit 12 cities

June 4-29, 2007
Atlanta, Berkeley, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two leaders of Iraq’s labor movement, Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein, President of the Electrical Utility Workers Union, and Faleh Abood Umara, General Secretary of the Federation of Oil Unions, will tour a dozen U.S. cities between June 4 and June 29, 2007. During their visit, they will address members of Congress, labor audiences and the general public about the impact the U.S. occupation has had on the labor movement and daily lives of working people in Iraq. They will speak about reconstruction and will explain why the labor movement is opposed to the proposed hydrocarbon law favored by the Bush administration and oil corporations which would put foreign oil corporations in effective control of 2/3 of Iraq’s undeveloped oil reserves. They will also describe the likely consequences if the occupation continues, what might occur if it abruptly ends and prospects for a stable, democratic, non-sectarian future for Iraq.

Their tour is cosponsored by U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW), United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). USLAW Co-Convenor Nancy Wohlforth, who is also a member of the General Executive Council of the AFL-CIO, explained her organization’s motivation for the tour: “The labor movement and other civil society organizations in Iraq are that country’s best hope for creating a stable, peaceful, non-sectarian future for Iraqis, yet the voices of Iraqi working people are almost never heard in the U.S. This tour will help break that silence and allow the American people to hear directly from Iraqis what life is like for working people there, what Iraqis think about the occupation, and what it will take to stabilize and rebuild that shattered nation.”

This is only the second time that Iraqi labor leaders have visited the U.S. since the March 2003 invasion. A delegation of six Iraqi union leaders toured 26 U.S. cities in 2005.


Faleh Abood Umara, General Secretary, Southern Oil Company Union, Iraqi Federation of Oil Workers’ Unions

Mr. Faleh Abood Umara is a founding member of the oil workers union and worked for the Southern Oil Company in Basra for 28 years. In 1998, he was detained by the Hussein regime for his activities on behalf of his coworkers. He has served on the unionís negotiating team with both the Oil Ministry and British occupation authorities to defend the rights and interests of oil industry workers in the post-Saddam era. The Federation of Oil Unions has conducted strikes against outsourcing to foreign workers and schemes to privatize the oil sector. The Federation has strongly opposed the hydrocarbon law that the Bush administration is trying to impose upon Iraq.

Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein, President, Electrical Utility Workers Union-GFIW

Mrs. Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein is the first woman to head a national union in Iraq. While working for the Southern Company for Electricity, she became active in the labor movement and rose in the leadership of the Electricity Workers Union in Basra and was recently elected its national president. She is head of the Women Workersí Bureau and is a leader in the Iraqi Womenís Association. She and her 7-year-old son have received death threats as a result of her activism.


U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) is a national coalition of more than 150 labor organizations representing more than four million union members. The group advocates, educates and mobilizes the U.S. labor movement to bring about an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. It builds support for U.S. troops and their families by demanding all troops and contractors be brought home now. It advocates a just foreign policy and calls for redirecting the nationís resources to meeting human needs. It was founded in January 2003.

United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) is a coalition of more than 1,400 local and national peace and justice organizations throughout the U.S. that have joined together to end the Iraq war and occupation, and oppose the government’s policy of permanent warfare and empire-building. It has organized major national demonstrations in Washington, DC, and New York City and nurtured community-based antiwar activism around the country.

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) carries out service, development, social justice, and peace programs throughout the world. Founded by Quakers in 1917 to provide conscientious objectors with an opportunity to aid civilian war victims, AFSC’s mission and achievements won worldwide recognition in 1947 when it accepted the Nobel Peace Prize with the British Friends Service Council on behalf of all Quakers. AFSC’s Wage Peace Campaign is building a diverse and vocal constituency to end the war in Iraq.

See our last posts on Iraq, labor struggles in Iraq, and the civil resistance and the international anti-war effort.