February 2013 Archive:

Words from IWJ Board Member Naeem Baig

NaeemThe following is an exerpt from a Feb. 16 note to members of the Islamic Circle of North America from IWJ Board Member Naeem Baig. Naeem is the new elected President of the ICNA. He played a major role in strengthening ICNA's Interfaith Relations Department. During his time as the Secretary General, ICNA became member of many Interfaith organizations, like Religions for Peace USA and National Muslim Christian Initiative. 

Dear Muslims:

The Islamic Circle of North America, ICNA, is an organization for all Muslims living in the United States of America.

Since its inception in 1968, the brothers and sisters belonging to ICNA have been working day and night for the cause of Islam, seeking only the pleasure of AllahGlorified and Exalted be He.


In ICNA, we have a very democratic process. Members of ICNA elect their leaders at various levels to run the affairs of this organization. In January of this year, the members of the ICNA General Assembly have put this great task on my shoulders by electing me as President of ICNA for the 2013 – 2014 session.


ICNA has almost 40 chapters and sub-chapters throughout the country. This kind of grassroots presence makes it possible for us to involve the American Muslim community and the larger community in many ways. ICNA is known for its outreach/Dawah efforts; we are constantly engaged in relief work and social services and remain committed to social justice causes. ICNA Sisters’ Wing helps sisters effectively learn about Islam. Young Muslims (YM), the youth division of ICNA, runs over 60 study groups for the American Muslim youth.

As a board member, Naeem has been instrumental in helping IWJ staff think about moving it's communications strategies forward. Interfaith Worker Justice and our affiliates across the country want to congratulate Naeem on his election and wish him a blessed term serving as INCA's President. As people of faith are continue to work with our Mulsim brothers and sisters on an array of worker justice issues. 

Clergy support retired mineworkers

People of faith are calling on executives from Patriot Coal to protect the healthcare benefits and pensions of retired union coal minors who worked for Peabody Energy.

mineworkers actionPeabody Energy created the company Patriot Coal in 2007 and the company took on $1.3 billion of Peabody’s healthcare and pension obligations to retired union mineworkers.

Although Peabody is making soaring profits, Patriot Coal is filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company now is looking to terminate benefits in the union contract for more than 20,000 retired Peabody mineworkers who never worked a day at Patriot Coal.

Learn more about the Fairness at Patriot campaign.

Mineworkers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, and rely on the good healthcare benefits in their union contract. Patriot’s attempt to terminate those benefits is troubling for people of faith; many are working with the labor community in St. Louis (where the two companies are headquartered) and across the region to organize support and action.

Nearly faith leaders signed an open letter urging the corporation’s leaders to protect the pensions and healthcare benefits promised in the Peabody contract. Union leaders plan to deliver the signed open letter to Patriot leadership next week.

Can you or the faith leader in your congregation or faith community sign the clergy sign on letter supporting these mineworkers?

Immigration reform will frame my Lenten journey

As Christians begin our Lenten journey this year, I was touched by a Homily I heard yesterday at a small Catholic parish in D.C.

During this season we are asked to strip away the excesses obstructing our connection to God, and to intentionally build our relationship with the Spirit. Micah 6:8 tells us exactly how to do this.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

It’s so simple and yet so daunting in the world where we live, especially considering why I was in D.C.

This week, IWJ organizers and affiliates joined workers and advocates for immigrant justice from across the country for a convening of the United Workers Congress.

Together with organizations like Jobs with Justice, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, National Guestworker Alliance and National People's Action, we met workers and organizers and worked on national strategy to push lawmakers for fair reform.

Click here to learn more about IWJ's campaign for immigration reform.

During the two day convening, we shared stories and struggles in our broken immigration system.

Stories like the four undocumented workers from a warehouse in New Jersey who were misclassified as independent contractors and forced to clean their bosses’ homes on the weekends without overtime pay or lose their weekday job. One worker couldn’t clean on a Saturday, and the workers were unjustly fired. While the Department of Labor was able to recover nearly $40,000 in back pay, they did not proceed with the workers’ retaliation claim because of their immigration status.

We’re fighting for inclusion, as NDLON’s executive director Pablo Alvarado said at the convening. It’s a core part of worker and civil rights. The abuse of the most vulnerable workers is a crisis people of faith need to support fixing.

Let us use this Lenten season to renew our push for comprehensive immigration reform that raises the standards for all workers in America, paves the way to citizenship and stops the breaking up of families.

Join Interfaith Worker Justice and call for justice for the immigrant, mercy for those who are abused and exploited because of their immigration status and walk humbly with your God.

Click here to sign up to join IWJ's immigration action team.