Brazilian Intel Agency Spied on Prosecutor in Marielle Franco Case – Teamsters Prez Settles $2.9 Million Racial Discrimination Case – 5,000 Minneapolis Teachers Walk Out

Rio City Councilwoman Marielle Franco was assassinated in 2018 (Brazilian Government)

Folks, 

Greetings from Joáo Pessoa, Brazil, where I am returning from a few days off to visit with some old friends here in sunny Joáo Pessoa. 

Brazilian Spy Agency Targeted Prosecutor in Marielle Franco Case 

This past week, federal authorities raided the home of Rio City Councilman Carlos Bolsonaro, son of former fascist President Jair Bolsonaro. (Interestingly, the Bolsonaros happened to have left to go fishing at 5 am shortly before the raid occurred). 

As part of the investigation, the Brazilian federal police have revealed that the Brazilian intelligence agency ABIN worked with Israeli intelligence to spy on the electronic communications of over 30,000 Brazilian political dissidents, setting up a “parallel” agency to spy on political dissidents. 

It has now been revealed that this group was used to spy on the ex-Rio state prosecutor Simone Sibolio, who was charged with leading the investigation into the assassination of Rio City Councilwoman Marielle Franco. 

Sibolio left the prosecution in 2021, citing “federal interference” as making it impossible to investigate the case. 

The gunman, who killed Marielle Franco, happened to have breakfast with Bolsonaro on the morning of the assassination in 2018 when Bolsonaro. At the time, Bolsonaro was a controversial Rio City Councilman with close ties to the paramilitary gangs that Marielle Franco was investigating as a Rio City Councilwoman. 

Many questions linger in Brazil as to why the Bolsonaros just happened to take off on an early morning fishing trip right before federal police raided their home. Some suggest that they may have taken the fishing trip to destroy files. 

For more on the scandal, check out G1

Help Finish Our Documentary Marielle Vive 

As many of you know, I studied with Marielle Franco when we were both scholarship students at PUC-RIO in the mid-2000s. While her story has inspired countless activists in Brazil, it is less widely known in the United States.

Since August, I’ve been working on a documentary about how Marielle continues to inspire people in Brazil. The documentary focuses heavily on a Landless Workers Movement land occupation called “Marielle Vive,” founded three weeks after Marielle was assassinated in 2018. 

We have already filmed over 20 hours of footage, and several major film producers are interested in helping us distribute it when it comes out. 

We initially thought we would be done in February, but now the story is expanding, with the federal government likely to announce the results of the investigation into her death. We will need to film more and stay till at least the end of March. 

Donate to help us stay on the ground and continue to tell this story. Sign up as one of our 753 recurring donors today. 

5,000 Anheuser Busch Strike Likely to Go on Strike

Back home in the state, Teamsters President Sean O’Brien is saying that it appears increasingly more likely that over 5,000 Anheuser Busch workers will go on strike when their contract expires on March 1st. 

In December, over 99% of workers voted to authorize a strike. Workers say they are concerned that several large breweries could close, resulting in layoffs. The Teamsters say that Anheuser-Busch has refused to meet with them over the past two months, increasing the likelihood of a strike. 

“The halting of beer production at Anheuser-Busch’s U.S. breweries appears imminent and unavoidable,” Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said in a statement.. “They have a harsh reality awaiting them when Anheuser-Busch breweries are empty, and Teamsters are on the streets.”

It remains to be seen if the Teamsters will strike. This past summer, O’Brien made similar statements that a strike at UPS was likely when he settled the contract, nearly a month before the election. 

Teamsters Prez Settles $2.9 Million Racial Discrimination Lawsuit 

Sometimes, when union presidents face scandals within their unions, they tend to talk tough against companies to distract attention from internal scandals, leading some to question if O’Brien was accurate in his threat of a strike at Anheuser-Busch. 

This week, the Guardian’s Michael Sainato revealed that Teamsters President Sean O’Brien was forced to settle for $2.9 million, a racial discrimination lawsuit by 13 former staffers of the Teamsters, who were either Latino or Black. All of the workers were fired from the union after O’Brien took over as president in March of 2022. 

“[The firings} set back the Organizing Department’s goals of effectively recruiting and organizing non-whites in favor of bolstering the majority white membership and leadership of the union. In total, Teamsters terminated 72.73% of the department’s staffers who were people of color, while firing only 28.57% of white staffers. Teamsters then proceeded to hire new staff members who were 73.33% white,” said the lawsuit. 

The Teamsters President has also recently faced criticism for meeting with Donald Trump from within his own union. A leaked email revealed that O’Brien pushed the union to donate $45,000 to the Republican National Convention. 

For more on the lawsuit against O’Brien, check out the Guardian. 

5,000 Minneapolis Teachers Walkout for 2nd Time in 2 Years

In 2022, over 5,000 Minneapolis teachers went on strike. Now, the teachers are out on strike again. 

They say that the school district still needs to fill critical vacancies in the union and follow through on promises with pay raises. As a result, over 20% of Minneapolis teachers are newly licensed, while only 2% of teachers in neighboring St. Paul are newly licensed. 

Teachers union members say that the school district has used accounting tricks to argue that they don’t have enough money for teachers. 

“We are not in a fantasy world. We totally understand that Minneapolis isn’t flush with cash, but we also know that they’re not behaving like their peer districts,” one Minneapolis teacher, told KSTP. “They are not spending money on students when they can be; they’re spending more money on district administrators, on transportation, on outside contracts… And we have watched that harm the whole.”

For more, check out KSTP. 

Over 3,000 Saskatchewan Teachers Strike 

For the time, over a decade, teachers throughout Saskatchewan have engaged in a series of rotating strikes. Already, over 3,000 teachers have gone out on strike in the past week. Teachers say they need more resources and that pay has lagged far behind. 

“We have over 500 kids in my school. We get a counsellor for maybe one, one-and-a-half days a week,” elementary school teacher Aubrey Swift told Saskatoon Star Phoenix this week. “Otherwise it’s us trying to fill in the blanks, and I’m not a counsellor.”

For more, check out the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. 

40% of French Teachers Strike 

According to the French teachers union, approximately 40% of the country went on strike last Thursday. 

The unions say that the new Minister of Education, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra’s inexperience and arrogance partly inflames them. She has repeatedly claimed she sends her children to private schools because the public school teachers are not up to her standards. 

While just a one-day strike, they say it is a warning to the French government to change its practices. 

In a statement this week, FSU-Snuipp said that the union said the strike was “a warning to the government” about teachers’ “daily life, their suffering at work and the lack of recognition, especially in their pay,.”

For more, check out Le Monde. 

Alright, folks, that’s all for today. Keep sending tips, story ideas, and comments to [email protected] 

Donate to Help Us Finish Our Documentary “Marielle Vive”. Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 773 recurring donors. 

Love & Solidarity, 

Melk 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]