Nationwide general strike slated for April 28 in Brazil
Delegation from Chicago Teachers Union meets with Brazilian teachers
Sao Paulo, Brazil – Labor unions, progressive political parties and social movements across Brazil have called for a general strike of all workers to protest the neoliberal anti-worker policies being imposed by right-wing politicians including the new president Michel Temer. Temer was put in office only after the illegal removal of progressive President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party.
A delegation from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) was invited by the Central dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras do Brasil – Central of Male and Female Workers of Brazil (CTB) to visit the Sao Paulo area to study how teachers are organizing for the strike.
“Teachers in Brazil face many of the same challenges that we do in Chicago. They face closings of neighborhood schools, cuts in teachers’ pension benefits as well as cuts to students in need. But a general strike to protest. Wow!” said CTU Executive Board Member Natasha Carlsen. “We are not there yet, but by organizing students, teachers and parents and applying class struggle methods we will get there.”
The call for a general strike follows protests and strikes by more than a million people on March 15. In Sao Paulo, the CTB president, Adilson Araujo, was one of those who used the microphone on the crowded Paulista Avenue saying, “Brazil woke up earlier today, willing to give a response to this illegitimate government which tries to impose at all costs an extreme neoliberal agenda.”
“All the unions are organizing for the General Strike. We had a meeting with every union in every sector. We are all united. We are striking to win back workers’ rights, win back our pensions and stop outsourcing,” said Campinas General Secretary for the CTB Paulo Jose Nobre, “Brazilian President Michel Temer is making an unprecedented attack on us. He wants us to work more hours and get paid less. He wants us to work more years for our pension and have less rights as workers.”
The Chicago Teachers Union delegation met with teachers organizing for the general strike around these issues. “Like the election of Donald Trump in the USA, the political trick that put Michel Temer in office is a setback,” said CTU fifth grade bilingual education teacher Marlena Ceballo, “we can learn from the teachers in Brazil that we, the workers, need to fight for power.”
One of the schools the delegation visited was the Carlos Gomes School that had been occupied by students to avoid closing. The successful student occupations which started in Chile and spread throughout South America were a response neoliberal cuts. “This was one of the big takeaways for us,” said CTU leader Sarah Chambers, “there is a lot of teacher, parent and community organizing happening in Chicago Public Schools, but not enough student organizing. In Brazil, the students are leading the charge along with the teachers.”