Conyers to speak at Boston hearing on health care crisis

The Greater Boston Labor Council and several local unions are among the more than 30 grassroots organizations sponsoring a hearing at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall on Sept. 1 to step up the pressure on policymakers for comprehensive health care reform.

The hearing is part of a campaign to build a stronger movement for a “Medicare for All” solution (HR 676) to the health care crisis, say the hearing’s sponsors. Passage of HR 676 would ensure that everyone would receive high quality and affordable health care, they say.

HR 676’s lead sponsor, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), will speak at the hearing, and local media personality Sarah-Ann Shaw will moderate.

All members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation have been invited to the hearing. Rep. Stephen Lynch has already said he will attend.

The hearing is organized by Jobs with Justice’s Health Care Action Committee. Co-sponsors include the Greater Boston Labor Council, Boston City Councilor Felix Arroyo, Communications Workers of America-District 1, CWA Local 1365, IBEW Locals 2222 and 2322, IUE/CWA Local 201, Massachusetts Nurses Association, SEIU Local 2020 and UE-District 2.

The hearing will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. For more information, visit

Meet me in St. Louis

Activists can come together to celebrate victories, share experiences, learn new skills and build stronger relationships at the annual Jobs with Justice meeting to be held this year in St. Louis, Sept. 23-25, says JwJ media organizer Erica Smiley. Participants will include hundreds of leaders and activists from around the country and the world who are working to build powerful coalitions for workers’ rights and economic justice, says Smiley.

This year, the annual meeting will also host a National Workers’ Rights Board hearing on Wal-Mart and a Student Labor Action Project pre-conference. To get more information about the meeting or to register on-line, visit

Break time at last

The Humane Treatment of Hotel Room Attendants Act, passed by the Illinois General Assembly this spring, will benefit thousands of women who clean hotel rooms, Unite Here, the union representing hotel workers, announced. The law requires hotels to give two paid 15-minute rest breaks per day. Room attendants — overwhelmingly female — have been struggling with increased workloads as hotels upgrade their bedding and amenities.

The Aug. 10 signing ceremony featured room attendants representing their co-workers, who come from Chicago and all over the globe — Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

Steel solidarity

The leaders of two of the largest metalworkers’ unions in Brazil called on Brazilian steel-making giant Gerdau S.A. and its Tampa-based subsidiary, Gerdau Ameristeel, to end the company’s lockout of North American steelworkers in Beaumont, Texas.

“We call on Gerdau to immediately end its unfair lockout of United Steelworkers Local 8586 in Beaumont, put the membership back to work, and negotiate a fair agreement,” said Fernando Lopes, secretary-general of CNM/CUT, the National Metalworkers’ Confederation of Brazil, and Nair Goulart, international relations secretary of CNTM, the National Confederation of Steelworkers — Força Sindical.

Lopes and Goulart, along with steelworkers from Beaumont and representatives from USW headquarters in Pittsburgh, addressed a rally outside the company’s Tampa headquarters before entering the building to present management with petitions from Gerdau’s North American workforce.

The group also distributed flyers contrasting “record profits for Tampa executives” with “pay cuts and an illegal lockout for Texas steelworkers.”

Labor Update is compiled by Roberta Wood (rwood @