The Common Good
September/October 2005
In June,

In June, six Iraqi labor union leader - representatives of three major Iraqi labor organizations - visited the United States to discuss their struggle for equitable labor practices under U.S. occupation. Saddam Hussein issued Law 150 in 1987 to prohibit workers in state-owned enterprises from joining unions. Under Iraq’s newly elected government and the U.S. ruling authority, those laws still exist - and are defended as a symbol of "respecting existing Iraqi legislation."

"We in Iraq don’t need a babysitter. We don’t need U.S. soldiers. We don’t need a continuation of Saddam’s policies," Falah Alwan, president of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, told Sojourners. "We need civil society and grassroots people from around the world to stand with us in forming a democratic, secular, free Iraq." The Iraqi labor movement offers a "third spoke," the unionists said, "in opposition to both the occupation and terrorism," and a vision of democracy where Iraq’s material and human resources are put forward to benefit their rightful owners: Iraqis.

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