Brazil

In Brazil, with the largest labor movement in the Americas, the Solidarity Center works with unions and allied organizations to advance worker rights across economic sectors, especially among the most economically vulnerable, such as Afro-Brazilians, women and migrant  workers.

Recent changes in the country’s labor laws, the massive increase in unemployment and informality, and the weakening of democratic institutions that promote labor rights have undermined unions’ ability to represent workers. The Solidarity Center is focused on assisting unions in defending hard-won gains for workers in collective bargaining agreements and recognition of worker rights, which have been under attack since 2014. The Solidarity Center also is working with unions to identify and implement new union organizing models that can provide greater institutional, political and financial sustainability.

Afro-descendants comprise 51 percent of the Brazilian population, yet they experience historic and institutional  discrimination in the labor market, earning substantially lower salaries and suffering from higher rates of unemployment than their non-black counterparts. To support themselves and their families, many are forced to work in the informal economy, where they endure low pay, little job stability and often unsafe working conditions. The Solidarity Center partners with unions to improve job opportunities of Afro-Brazilians from marginalized communities and to promote their civil and human rights, as they are systematically victimized by police violence and mass incarceration.

Brazilian women also have long been economically marginalized and the Solidarity Center partners with unions committed to empowering women workers throughout the country, including those in the garment, hospitality and domestic work sectors. Together with the National Confederation of Garment-Sector Workers (CNTV),  the National Confederation of Service and Retail Workers (CONTRACS), the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) and Brazil’s National Federation of Domestic Workers (FENATRAD), the Solidarity Center conducts trainings to equip women to advocate for safer working conditions, an end to gender-based violence, more equitable salaries on the job, and to assume more active leadership roles in their unions.

The Solidarity Center also is working with unions and other members of civil society to address common human rights challenges and security threats against rights defenders. In particular, in conjunction with the Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT) and the União Geral dos Trabalhadores (UGT), the Solidarity Center promotes the civil, political and social rights of workers vulnerable to violence in the workplace and in society, including Venezuelan migrant workers, Afro-Brazilian workers and rural workers in the Amazon region.

​Meanwhile, more than 4 million people have fled Venezuela into neighboring countries since 2014. Nearly 100,000 are in Brazil, where the Solidarity Center and union partners are supporting programs to relocate migrants to more prosperous regions of Brazil by assisting them in their search for decent employment and through education about their worker and citizenship rights, to prevent possible cases of labor exploitation.