Greetings from the Burgh, where in two days I’ll begin the first leg of my journey to Brasil. But before I head off, I’m inviting everyone to join me at Payday’s Happy Hour sendoff tomorrow in Regent Square at Murphy’s Taproom from 5 to 8.
Payday to Mix Brazilian Coverage with American Trade Union Coverage Till Early November
While Payday has principally focused on covering the labor movement in the United States, many Brazilian workers have called on American trade unionists to play a critical role in preventing a coup in the second largest democracy in the Western hemisphere.
Before becoming president in 2000, Lula was a long-time auto workers union leader. Beginning in the 1980s, he organized international solidarity missions against large multinationals and even assisted and spoke out on multiple occasions on behalf of Nissan workers in Canton, Mississippi, when they began their decade-long attempt to unionize.
Bernie & Tim Kaine Push Resolution to Cut Off Military Aid in Case of Coup
Senator Bernie Sanders and Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brasil’s former president, better known as “Lula,” have long been close allies. When Lula was wrongfully imprisoned in April 2018, Sanders led attempts to raise the U.S.’s consciousness about the injustice.
When Lula was released after the wrongful imprisonment on trumped-up charges, the first tweet he sent declared his admiration and support for Bernie’s 2020 presidential primary bid.
“Thank you for your solidarity, You have always been my candidate for the US presidency and I hope democrats have the wisdom to nominate a candidate with your worldview,” Lula tweeted shortly less than an hour after his release from prison in 2019.
Now Sanders and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) are attempting to pass a resolution that would cut off all military aid to Brasil if Bolsonaro attempted a coup.
However, the bill has yet to be moved by Democrats, and not a single Republican has signed onto the bill. Sanders told The Washington Post that he thinks no Republicans have supported the bill because Trump has been very vocal in his support of Bolsonaro.
But last night on the Senate floor, Sanders said it was imperative for the U.S. to send a message to Brasil’s military elite that aid will be cut off if they support a coup.
“It is the business of the United States to make clear to the people of Brasil that our government will not recognize or support a government that comes to power through military coup or the undermining of a democratic election,” Sanders said. (Watch Sander’s full 9-minute speech here.)
If there is a coup attempt, American trade union activists will play a crucial role in pressuring the U.S. government to cut off military aid to Brasil.
Help Hire Part-Time Staff to Cover the US While Melk is in Brasil
While Melk is in Brasil for six weeks covering the election, Payday’s reporting will be a mix of dispatches about what’s happening in Brasil with what’s happening in the states. Melk will be reporting news from Brasil until the election is over in early November.
Bolsonaro Gives Aid to Uber and Truck Drivers in Attempt to Gain Votes
With presidential polls in Brasil consistently showing Lula leading by at least 10 points, current president Jair Bolsonaro has begun implementing emergency economic measures to persuade voters back to him — and he’s starting at the gas pump.
Brazilian Uber drivers, much like Uber drivers in the U.S., have been getting hit hard by the global rise in gasoline prices.
So, Bolsonaro has cut fuel taxes to reduce the cost of gas at the pump to help truck drivers and Uber drivers. He has also been giving $120-a-month cash benefits to over 20 million families to help stave off the effects of inflation.
However, analysts think it’s too little too late to save his re-election bid.
“This election has been a battle of rejections, and it seems like the people are rejecting Bolsonaro more resoundingly,” Mauricio Moura, founder of the polling firm IDEIA Big Data told The Washington Post. “The financial aid provided by Bolsonaro is just not enough to minimize much negative feelings about the overall economic environment.”
Armed Guards Brought to Union Talks in the United States
Back in the United States, one employer in the U.S. recently brought six armed guards to contract talks.
Since August 1, 122 Ingredion workers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have been on strike. On Tuesday, when workers went to a contract negotiation session, company executives came accompanied by six armed guards with guns on their belts, who later surrounded the workers. The union was outraged.
“I expressed my concerns: We’re here to negotiate in good faith, and the company’s bringing armed guards? … It’s intimidation and a lack of respect on the company’s part,” BCTGM Local 100-G President Mike Moore told Iowa Starting Line.
800 Austin Nurses Unionize in Largest Texas Victory
In another sign of growing militancy in the South, over 800 nurses at Ascension Seton Medical Center (ASMC) voted to unionize, with 72% voting in favor.
The hospital is the largest private sector hospital in Texas to unionize. The nurses will join the more than 2,500 nurses in Texas who have already unionized in the state.
”We’re thrilled that we won our union election here at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin and get to join our fellow union nurses across the state in Corpus Christi, El Paso, and Brownsville,” Taylor Critedon, a registered nurse in the intensive care unit, said in a statement. “We hope that more nurses in Austin will organize and join us in fighting for the highest standards of care here in the state capital and throughout Texas.”
Selma City Workers Strike
In historic Selma, Alabama, workers in the city’s Cemetery, Recreation and Public Works Departments are on strike. The workers, who make $9 an hour, are on strike over low wages and are calling on the city to do better.
“Nine dollars an hour, that’s not enough to take care of four kids in the current economy that we have,” Landfill Secretary Lashone Edwards told Alabama News Network. “It’s just not enough.”
Jackson, Mississippi Public Workers Strike
In Hinds County, Mississippi, which encompasses the State Capitol of Jackson, over 100 public works employees are also on strike. The workers are demanding a $300 a month raise, an ask that the county’s board of supervisors voted down.
“You got guys here who are not bringing home $1,200 a month,” Willie Dotson told WLBT. “So, you know that $300 will help out a lot. It will help out a lot, and I’m quite sure every man here would agree with what I’m saying.”
First House of Representative Office Will Vote to Unionize
As staff in Congress push to unionize, members of Congressman Andy Levin’s office will be the first office that will vote to unionize.
“This is only the beginning as we move towards elections in several other offices,” the Congressional Workers union added on Twitter. “We want to recognize the brave congressional staffers who have spoken out and demanded better working conditions across Capitol Hill and have brought us to this incredible point in history!”
News & Strikes Happening Elsewhere
- Amazon workers walk out in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
- Starbucks workers end historic 64-day strike on Commonwealth Avenue.
- Grand Island Salvation Army men’s shelter closed amid walkouts, abuse allegations.
- Employees strike at Fresno County Sunnyside Convalescent Hospital due to ‘poor working conditions.’
- Ready to ‘call a strike,’ central Ohio union schedules one more negotiation with Kroger.
- Case New Holland Workers’ strike enters fifth month as negotiations stall.
- Finally, a new survey finds six in 10 workers want to ditch the 40-hour work week.
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Love & Solidarity,