Iraqi labor leaders visit Haymarket memorial
June 30, 2007
CHICAGO Two leaders of Iraqs labor movement placed a
plaque at the Haymarket Memorial here June 23 as leaders of major U.S.
labor organizations looked on.
Iraqi oil workers union leader Faleh Abood Umara, center, holds mic for
his interpreter at solidarity ceremony at Haymarket Memorial Chicago,
June 23. John Wojcik/PWW
The presentation was the Iraqis way of remembering both Iraqi and
American workers who have been killed defending human rights. In Arabic
and English, the plaque reads, in part, May the bonds of international
labor solidarity help us all in our struggles for justice, peace,
democracy and workers rights.
The irony of union leaders coming from Iraq, where the Bush
administration says it is fighting for freedom, to the United States to
support the struggle for democracy at the workplace here was not lost
on the union leaders gathered at the event.
Cynthia Rodriguez, representing the Service Employees International
Union, said, Our fight is your fight we cant let Bush privatize
your oil, just as we cant let Bush privatize the public trust in this
Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein, president of the Iraqi Electrical Utility
Workers Union and the first woman to lead a major union in Iraq, told
the crowd, It is time for your sons and daughters to come home to you,
safe and sound. She called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces
from Iraq and said, The Iraqi people are capable of managing their own
Faleh Abood Umara, general secretary of the 26,000-member
Federation of Oil Unions, said the oil law being pushed by the Bush
administration, and included by Congress as a benchmark in the
recently passed war spending bill, would steal from the Iraqi people
what we need to rebuild our destroyed country.
He said the Haymarket Memorial site, where 11 workers were killed
in 1886 fighting for the eight-hour day, touches me deeply because in
Iraq today, as in America then, workers are killed just for trying to
make a living.
Nathan Mason, curator of cultural affairs for the city of Chicago,
presented the Iraqis with a bouquet of flowers and accepted the plaque
on behalf of the city.