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American unions expect dialogue, health protection and ‘reconstruction’



São Paulo – The American union movement reacted with courage to the electoral result, even though Joe Biden was not the dream candidate. The central AFL-CIO, for example, said it hoped for a more pro-worker government, stating that its 12.5 million union members and 56 affiliated entities are eager to have “more voice in our economy and in our policy”. For the leaders of the American unions, it is time – with delay – to implement a work agenda.

As for the political significance of the election, the president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, has no doubt. “Democracy is prevailing,” he says. “The victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in this free and fair election is a victory for the workers’ movement in the United States. Everywhere, workers struggle heroically and with resilience against this pandemic, the economic downturn, chronic wage inequality and systemic racism ”, adds the leader.

“True reconstruction”

The first step, according to him, would be to pass the so-called Heroes law, to combat covid-19. “To provide our families and communities with support and emergency services in the face of this deadly virus,” says Trumka. From there, he points out, “the real reconstruction can begin”.

Another demand of the American unions is the approval by Congress, with Biden’s ratification, of the Law for the Protection of the Right to Organize (PRO, in the acronym in English), at the beginning of next year. “To ensure that any worker who wants to form or join a union can do so freely. Workers want our leaders to act quickly and think more boldly than ever. This is the time to start. ” Restrictions on union freedom have as an example the automaker Nissan, which has been the target of protests around the world, including in Brazil.

Unemployment and inequality

Unemployment is also of concern to American unions, especially in the post-pandemic period. The unemployment rate has been falling in recent months, but remains well above 2019. In October, it was 6.9%, according to the United States Department of Labor. It was 7.9% in September, but a year ago it was 3.6%. In those 12 months, the total number of unemployed went from 5.857 million to 11.061 million. In Brazil, that number has already reached 14 million.

But North American market data reveal inequalities. The unemployment rate, for example, is lower for adult men (6.7%), adult women (6.5%) and whites (6%). It is higher for young people (13.9%), blacks (10.8%) and Hispanics (8.8%). There are 3.6 million Americans out of work for 27 weeks or more and 2.6 million for 15 to 26 weeks. In addition, most are temporary or part-time occupations.

Social dialogue

The challenges are many, but the CUT International Relations secretary, Antonio Lisboa, points out important changes, such as the American return to multilateral organizations. “We have criticisms, but disregarding them is even worse”, he observes. It is in these spaces, he recalls, that there is “some possibility of facing certain themes”, as in the most urgent health issue ever.

The expectation of American unionists is positive, but Lisbon notes that there is still concern about the final result of the election in Congress. There is a prospect of strengthening social dialogue, possible approval of the PRO and the reconstruction of a public health system. “I believe that the relationship between the new government and the union movement will be much better.”


Four years ago, Donald Trump was elected with the rhetoric of “big America” and the creation of jobs for Americans, with a xenophobic bias. “In 2016, this worked well. This speech ended up conquering part of the workers, even with the union movement’s campaign for the Democratic Party ”, says Lisboa. Now, although Biden comes from the Democratic “center” – there was a preference for the most progressive wing for Bernie Sanders – the need to defeat Trump prevailed.

Relations between Brazilian and American unionists have changed over time. If decades ago there was a certain distrust for a certain link between the AFL-CIO and the interventionist policies of the United States, today the link has narrowed. Lisbon indicates a “turn to the left” as of the 1980s. In the case of CUT, this approach came with the first meeting between union leaders, two centrals, in 1993.

Since then, the participation of the AFL-CIO is effective even within the Central Union of Workers of the Americas, CSA. The Americans also took a clear stand against the ouster of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and the arrest of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2018. “They were extremely supportive.”

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Book addresses transformations in rap through changes in society




São Paulo – Society undergoes several changes, year after year, be it culturally, in its forms of organization, and even in new working methods. These transformations influence other segments, including Hip-Hop, rap and their MC battles. In view of this, social scientist Felipe Oliveira Campos, known as Felipe Choco, launched the book Rap, Culture and Politics: Battle of the Matrix and the Aesthetics of Entrepreneurial Overcoming, which addresses the digital and marketing influence within this culture.

A member of the Center for Studies and Research of Afro-America (Nepafro), Choco analyzes contemporary society using the Battle of the Matrix held in São Bernardo do Campo as a pillar since 2013, and considered a reference in the duel between MCs. The resistance of the event, the target of police repression and municipal administration, was the starting point for the author.

“When I face the Battle of the Matrix, it poses a number of questions that can be deepened, being able to understand it beyond the context of battles, as public spaces in cities”, he explains. “When the Battle of the Matrix emerged, I was part of the Hip-Hop Forum of São Bernardo do Campo, and mediated conflicts with the Government. Therefore, I realized that the conflicts that the battle created when occupying the public space, raised questions of general interest. So I used the Battle of the Matrix as a way to understand contemporary Brazil, ”added Choco.

In 2018, RBA reported the repression suffered by the battle of ABC Paulista. At the time, the management of the mayor of São Bernardo do Campo, Orlando Morando (PSDB), tried to “boycott” the traditional rap event in the city, by charging a fee for using the Praça da Matrix, in the city center. At various times, rapper Emicida went to the site to support young people.

Social transformations

While society sees new forms of organization, rap also adapts to these changes. The writer compares the professionalization of artists and battles to the industrialization of the city of São Bernardo do Campo and Posse Hausa, a black organization founded in the 1990s, focused on the Hip-Hop movement, whose majority of the members were workers in the ABC industry Paulista.

With the 2017 labor reform, by then President Michel Temer (MDB-SP), Felipe Choco explains that the social dynamics have also changed within the Hip-Hop culture. “Today, the organizers of the Battle of the Matrix are part of the service sector, without stability and without social protection. Therefore, the financial solution, among the organizers, was the professionalization of the event. This applies to the whole culture. ”

The main example used by the author of these social and economic transformations in rap is Emicida’s career. Coming from the Battle of Santa Cruz, disputed south of São Paulo, the rapper emerged using the main method of rhyming duels: the punchlines – in Portuguese, punch lines, used to impress the listener.

After the success, the rapper created his own musical label: Laboratório Fantasma. “Emicida created a horizon to organize its own career, without having to go through the distributors’ screen. In other words, it is the democratization of music production, distribution and consumption ”, said Choco, who recalls that the book’s presentation is signed by the MC.

Aesthetics of entrepreneurial overcoming

Based on the phenomenon achieved by Emicida, the social scientist points to the creation of a new aesthetic within rap: that of entrepreneurial overcoming. According to him, this aspect allows creative freedom and financial autonomy, creating a style of business organization.

“This overcoming does not mean denying the culture’s past, but advancing in the market sense, creating a mark around the artist”, he explained. The author quotes a statement by Mano Brown, a member of Racionais, where the rapper points out that the phonographic market is no longer just the commercialization of music, but also the image and positioning of MCs.

This aesthetic creates a new notion of work and organization, according to the author. “If we make a parallel with the industrial market, in the 1990s, work was in opposition to capital, where the organization of the workforce sought its valorization. Now, in the face of informality and the imposition that ‘each one is an entrepreneur of their own’, artists become their own business capital ”, he reiterates.

However, this entrepreneurial resilience does not only involve rappers and new independent labels, but also affects the battles of MCs, including the Matrix. With the rise of streaming platforms such as YouTube, duels have become more digital, have reached new audiences and created a new market.

“The Battle of the Matrix is ​​a product of that condition that battles have become. Before the pandemic, every Tuesday, she mobilized 1,000 people in the square. Battles play a fundamental role in mutations and reinventions of culture, as was the case with punchline, taking a new breath in how to make and organize rap. These changes that occur in rap did not come out of nowhere, they are the result of social transformations ”, concludes Felipe.

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