Brazilian Trade Unionists Declare Solidarity with Alabama Amazon Union

UGT Congresso (Flickr)

In recent years, Brazilian trade unionists have begun playing a heavier role in organizing in the South, highlighting how Brazil’s legal protections for union organizing are much more rigorous than the United States’.

In August of 2017 when Nissan workers were fighting in an uphill union battle in Canton, Mississippi, workers in Brazil went on strike and shut down not just factories, but also auto dealerships. 

“They protested in solidarity,” Nissan union leader Morris Mock told Payday Report and franknews in an interview last month. “They shut the factory down. It was really amazing how Brazilian unions reach out.”  

Brazilian Nissan workers even traveled to Mississippi to walk the picket line with Nissan workers there in the closing days of the campaign. (Watch as Payday founder Mike Elk talked en Portuguese with Brazilian trade union leaders in the summer of 2017.)

Now, in a video released to Payday Report, Ricardo Patah, the President of  the 14-million member Brazilian UGT trade federation (União Geral dos Trabalhadores) talks about the importance of the Nissan union campaign in building Brazilian solidarity with organizing in the U.S. South.

“Morris, who is helping with this campaign, knows our solidarity with Nissan workers (in Mississippi),” said Patah speaking of the union’s relationship with Nissan union leader Morris Mock, who has visited Brazil on multiple occasions to speak at trade union federation rallies. 

Patah also sent a message of solidarity to Amazon workers as they await election results in the historic union election. 

“We stand with you because here in Brazil, Amazon has already started its business with racial discrimination, discrimination against women, discrimination against disabled, lower wages and they have no respect for workers,” Patah said in the solidarity video. 

As workers wait for the final days of the Amazon union campaign in Alabama to close, Patah wants to make one thing clear:

“We are from the UGT Central Union and are in solidarity with your struggle. It’s so important that you build a union that represents you all. It’s fundamental. Long live the Amazon workers in Alabama.” 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter who covered everything from Lula & the Brazilian labor movement to major league baseball. He spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian and was labeled by the New York Times as an "abrasive gadfly" for exposing within the labor movement. Raised in a UE union family in Pittsburgh, Elk was illegally for union organizing at Politico in 2015 and used his NLRB settlement to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and is fluent in both Pittsburghese and Portuguese, which he learned when attending journalism school at PUC-Rio de Janerio. Email: [email protected]

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