International Female Labor Leaders
We would like to thank the Global Labor Justice’s International Labor Rights Defenders Roundtable for calling attention to and amplifying the voices of women union and labor leaders from across the globe. Worker Justice Wisconsin lauds the bravery, determination, and commitment to justice that these women have displayed.
Allison Lee (Lee li Hua): Secretary General, Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union (YMFU), Taiwan.
Lee is the co-founder of Taiwan’s first labor union led by foreign workers, which advocates for stronger protection of fishermen. She is also a strong advocate against sex-trafficking.
“To me, everyone should be treated equally, regardless of their race, occupation, or class. I believe workers should have a certain dignity. They should be treated equally—be it their wage or overtime pay, working period or resting period, if they live on-shore or live on boats.”
Iris Mungia: Secretary of Women (Secretaria de la Mujer), Federation of Industrial Agricultural Unions (FESTAGRO), Honduras.
Mungia is the lead organizer of Coordination of Banana Unions in Honduras (COSIBAH) and the coordinator for the women’s chapters of COSIBAH and Coordinating Body of Latin American Banana and Agro-industrial Unions (COLSIBA), a coalition of unions representing 55,000 workers across eight countries, the largest transnational federation of private-sector unions in the Americas.
“As union women and union leaders, the only way to improve the labor conditions of female and male workers is through the unions and through collective bargaining…That’s why my dream is to see in my country that there is no child labor or forced migration overseas, and the only way to stop migration is with good working conditions.”
Julie Su: Deputy Secretary of Labor, US Department of Labor.
Julie Su led a team that sued the captors, manufacturers, and retailers at the top of the supply chain who benefited from the forced labor of an illegal sweatshop in El Monte, California.
“[W]hat I’ve learned from a lifetime of working alongside low-wage workers (who everybody expects just to keep their heads down and know their place) is that it’s not their fears that hold us back; it’s the fears of those in power to really step up, to support and join the campaigns, and to do what’s right.”
Mrs. Ma Moe Sandar Myint: Chairwoman, Federation of Garment Workers Myanmar (FGWM), Myanmar.
Ma Moe Sandar Myint organized and leads Myanmar’s Federation of Garment workers. She’s led more than 20 demonstrations for democracy since the military coup of Myanmar. “Our vision is for Myanmar to be able to restore democracy and for every worker in Myanmar to enjoy a free, fair, and good workplace and to get a living wage. Also, we envision that labor laws that can protect the workers and are written with the participation of the workers can be enacted.”
Roza Agaydarova: Founder, Adolat Sari Olg’a (Onward Toward Justice), Uzbekistan.
Roza Agaydarova is an Uzbekistani organizer who was wrongfully terminated from her job at a spinning mill after calling attention to corruption in the company. In January 2021 she sued for reinstatement and won, and in March 2021 she headed the campaign of Uzbekistan’s first democratic union election.
“I hope that in the future [our union work] will benefit everyone, not just the workers, but also our communities and our society in general. Maybe people will become more freedom-loving and will want to protect their own rights.”