What can Brazilian workers tell us about forging a “new CIO” in the US?
Two rebellious Brazilian union federations are attempting to unite. They seek an alternative to a union federation, the CUT, that has given in to the bosses, the government and the neoliberal agenda.
At the end of June, near Sao Paulo, the two dissident union federations held a Congress or “Conclat” of 3,100 delegates who were elected earlier by 15,000 delegates to 900 assemblies representing nearly 3 million workers. A bank worker delegate explained that in general “Each assembly represents one union, or union opposition caucus, or social movement.”
The workers represented include many thousands who work for General Motors and other US companies.
The federations attempting to unite are in significant measure led by revolutionary socialists. That is one reason why, for example, Conlutas is a major supporter of Pinheirinho. At Pinheirinho, thousands of homeless people occupied corporate land and built humble but functional dwellings. General Motors workers at Sao Jose dos Campos actively support this movement. Pinheirinho has mobilized strongly enough to secure electricity and water and recently to win recognition by government bodies. That means that they will now receive all public services such as paved roads and garbage collection.
On June 6, after two days of militant programs, international solidarity and stormy debate, this unity experiment broke down—to the shock of delegates and observers. However, the attempt should be inspiring and instructive for workers elsewhere, including the US.
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