Teaching assemblies



Comment on the article by Valter Lúcio de Oliveira

On Tuesday he was surprised by an article published on the website the earth is round, by a colleague, professor at the Fluminense Federal University, entitled “Andes x Proifes – the dispute in teaching unionism”. Despite deeply disagreeing with the content of the text, I welcome the exposure of such an important debate – especially at this crucial moment in the national wall movement – ​​in a space that is usually read by the left-wing in our country.

Regarding the criticisms that my colleague makes of the Assemblies, a historical space for labor struggles, I understand that they come from a lack of understanding of one of the objectives of trade unionism. I won't even go into the statistical merits of sample space, which I'm sure my colleague is aware of and chose not to mention.

Em The Misery of Philosophy, Marx tells us the following: “Large industry concentrates in a single place a multitude of people, unknown to each other. Competition divides your interests. But the defense of wages, this common interest that they have against the boss, unites them in the same thought of resistance, of coalition […] Coalitions, initially isolated, form groups, and, in the face of capital that is always united, maintaining the association becomes more important to them than defending their salary.”

The Assemblies, so criticized by my colleague, are the space where we, teachers from different areas – from physics to sociology – meet, identify ourselves as part of a collective, and realize that each of those who are there, in their own way, great diversity, are essential for the functioning of the institution we work for. The Assemblies are a space where we realize that our problems – lack of work tools, deterioration of classroom infrastructure, hungry students due to lack of student assistance and sufficient food in the University Restaurant – are problems shared and seen by the entire faculty.

Those who advocate consultations online, without presence, they don't even realize that this lack of presence does nothing more than exacerbate individualism, accentuated by neoliberal practices, and which was extremely useful in the last decade to vilify the rights won by the working class, with a lot of blood and sweat, in the last century.

Just think about what happened to the profession of private drivers, previously practiced by taxi drivers organized in their workers' associations, and today practiced, for the most part, by platform workers, who drive up to 16 hours a day to earn between one and two minimum wages. . My colleague forgets how harmful the pandemic period was for learning, in which we were forced to use digital tools for teaching. Non-face-to-face teaching was a failure for learning, in the same way that non-face-to-face unionism fails.

At the bases of the Proifes Federation, which is restricted to just seven of the 69 federal universities, five are on strike. Even in those Universities in which the category decided on the government's proposal through an online plebiscite that included the vote of affiliates and non-affiliates (UFRN and UFG), the government's proposal was rejected. Proving that the assemblies are far from distorting the will of the majority, as my colleague insistently tries to assert.

The assemblies not only strengthen the teaching movement, but reflect the will of the category and strengthen the organization of the strike itself. But the most impressive thing is that the same colleague who criticizes the assemblies for their 'low representation', welcomes the fact that a Federation without a union charter, which represents less than 15% of the category, signs an agreement with the government based on just two decisions favorable on its basis.

For those who don't know, only the professors at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, who for obvious and fair reasons are not at all concerned with salary negotiations, and the Federal University of Santa Catarina, in a plebiscite online illegal, which excluded non-affiliated people from voting, accepted the government's proposal. And then I ask my colleague, if our Teaching Assembly on May 24th, at the Federal University of Bahia, which had 600 teachers – out of a universe of 2.900 – has no representation, why does he defend that a trade union Federation can, based on the deliberation of two universities, sign by all 69 Federal Universities in our country?

My colleague also defends, in his text, that the information in the proposal circulates truthfully among the category. What I can say, from my experience as a union member at a Proifes base, is that in the days following our last assembly, the cutista union board spread the most diverse misleading information. Among them, if we did not sign now there would be no more time for the agreement to be included in the LDO, the same LDO which, corresponding to the year 2024, only had its latest version approved on December 19, 2023.

Furthermore, both Proifes and APUB did not inform teachers that, of the 12,5% ​​proposed by the government, approximately 11% would be eroded by inflation projected for 2024, 2025 and 2026. That is, they did not tell the category that our 'gain real' would be less than one percentage point per year during this period, something completely far from replacing our accumulated salary losses. Fortunately, we had an assembly, in which we were able to distribute the Local Strike Command materials, not disclosed by the union board, and our colleagues were able to vote informed, listening carefully to both positions. The decision was 369 votes to reject the proposal against 199 votes to accept it.

Finally, having already highlighted the lack of transparency and representation of the Cutista union federation, I would like to say to my teaching colleagues spread across this country that, far from being divided, the union movement in education is more united than ever. Andes-SN and Sinasefe, for the first time, are walking side by side. And what's more, this union also includes Fasubra, which represents our poorly paid administrative technicians, without whom our universities cannot function. The only divisionists, contrary to what my colleague's text wanted to point out, are the members of the Federation's top leadership without a union charter.

We remain united in the fight for budget recovery for Universities and for the appreciation of education workers. To victory!

*Lucas Trentin Rech is a professor at the Department of Economics at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA).

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