Brazil

The Solidarity Center in Brazil works with unions and allied organizations to advance worker rights across industries, especially among the most economically vulnerable, such as Afro-Brazilians, women and rural workers.

In Brazil, the Solidarity Center works with its ally INSPIR (the Inter-American Union Institute for Racial Equality) to eliminate racism against Afro-descendants in the workplace and throughout society. Afro-descendants comprise 51 percent of the Brazilian population, yet they are systematically discriminated against in the labor market, earning substantially lower salaries and suffering from higher rates of unemployment than their Euro-descendant 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.

To overcome the difficult legacy of the more than 400 years of slavery in Brazil, the Solidarity Center and INSPIR empower Afro-Brazilian workers to fight for their rights through education, collective bargaining and policy advocacy. The work of INSPIR and the Solidarity Center, together with that of other union and political allies, has led in recent years to the enactment of significant new affirmative action laws in the Brazilian federal civil service and public university system.

Brazilian women also have long been economically marginalized and the Solidarity Center works to empower women workers in a broad range of employment sectors, including the chemical, garment and hospitality industries and domestic work. Together with the CNQ (National Confederation of Chemical Workers), CNTRV (National Confederation of Clothing Workers) and CONTRACS (National Confederation of Service and Retail Workers), the Solidarity Center conducts trainings and campaigns to equip women to advocate for safer working conditions and more equitable salaries on the job, and to assume more active leadership roles in their unions.

In conjunction with the Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT) and Uniao Geral dos Trabalhadores (UGT), the Solidarity Center focuses on bringing workers to the center of the debate on sustainable development. Brazil holds one-third of the world’s tropical forests in its Amazon region, and contains the planet’s largest expanse of biodiversity and fresh water. However, these precious natural resources are at risk due to predatory development practices by mining and agroindustry companies, which in addition to endangering the environment, do not take into account the needs of Amazon-region workers.

Under its sustainable development program, the Solidarity Center and its union allies bring workers in the rural and urban sectors together to construct alternatives—by strengthening worker organizations, expanding collective bargaining and engaging with local and national policymakers—to ensure conservation of this fragile ecosystem as well as decent livelihoods for all.

Meanwhile, more than 2 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.