Strengthen PROIFES

Image: Sasha Prasastika


The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario

First of all, congratulate the site the earth is round for its open and democratic attitude, publishing texts with different views, arguments and opinions on matters of public interest.

On June 4, 2024, professor Valter Pomar posted on this site, comments regarding an article I previously published there, entitled “In defense of the agreement signed by Proifes”. Below I present some considerations in this regard, in addition to other reflections on the negotiations that took place with the federal government, as well as clarifications regarding fake news that has been disseminated.

You can't erase history or live in the past

According to Valter Pomar, the first two paragraphs of my previous text were dedicated to “removing the past”, talking about the agreements signed by PROIFES and the role played by ANDES from the 2000s onwards. Here I believe that the term 'removing' does not applies to the necessary presentation of the history of what each entity has been doing. It is understandable that, for those who insist on defending ANDES, this comparison is uncomfortable.

On the other hand, it is also unquestionable that all the career improvements, advantages and salary benefits achieved in the last twenty years result from the agreements signed by PROIFES, without which the teachers of Higher Education (MS) and Basic, Technical and Technological Education (MS) EBTT) would be in a very precarious situation today. While, at the same time, numerous backward positions illustrate the trajectory of ANDES in this period, contrasting regrettably with its previous performance, in favor of redemocratization.

However, we do not need to go back in time for these differences to become clear. Even now, in 2024, PROIFES once again signed, together with several entities, the agreement which resulted, from this month of May, in an increase in food assistance and other benefits. This agreement was signed by PROIFES, but not by ANDES.

ANDES' oppositions

These considerations lead us to another question: in fact I did not mention, in the previous text, the existence of an opposition in ANDES. Two observations are worth making here. The first is that for PROIFES supporters this concern has long been overcome.

The second is that it is understandable and natural that some colleagues, such as Professor Valter Pomar, want it to be made very clear that they belong to the ANDES opposition, since they do not want their positions to be confused with what the situation says and does: categorization of President Lula's government (first term) as neoliberal, therefore deserving of fierce attack, in the form of a strike immediately organized against him; the visceral opposition to REUNI (investment program for the expansion of public universities), with a violent invasion of rectory offices, justified, according to them, by the 'unanimous support of professors from all over Brazil'; opposition to the quota law; the refusal to characterize President Dilma's impeachment as a coup; among many other points. Therefore, it is fair to make it clear that sectors of the opposition within the scope of ANDES – although they insist on remaining under its shadow – cannot be held responsible for the countless political follies committed by the entity for some time.

In any case, it is worth saying that there is no opposition at ANDES today. In 2004, this opposition – the then 'ANDES-Sind' – was very strong. That year we launched a ticket to compete in the entity's elections. We had 10.537 votes (48% of valid votes), against 11.413 (52%) in the situation. The irregularities in the election were flagrant. Nothing has changed since then: the irregularities continue, as denounced more than once by Renova ANDES (today the majority opposition group in ANDES).

This situation led us – in that same year of 2004 – to analyze the validity of the thesis of continuing to contest the ANDES elections. Our reflection reached two obstacles, in our view insurmountable, that opposed it. On the one hand, it was clear that ANDES management had peculiarly creative ways of conducting union elections. On the other hand, there was a deeper reason, of a structural nature. I explain.

In ANDES elections, all members can vote directly at the ballot box. The political guidelines that guide the entity, however, are approved in the entity's bodies, Councils of Teaching Associations (CONADs) and Congresses, whose 'delegates' are elected in assemblies, in each 'Union Section' (SS). It is, therefore, not enough to win the ANDES elections to be able to lead the entity. Quite the contrary, because those who went to the polls to elect the direction of ANDES do not necessarily go to the assemblies, which are endless and sometimes manipulated; therefore, it will not be in CONADs and Congresses, which are the instances in which those guidelines are defined – and which the board must comply with, according to the statute, whatever the program for which it was elected. An insurmountable contradiction.

Thus, for the above reasons, the group that founded PROIFES, with the broad and highly majority support of members of 'ANDES-Sind', decided, from 2006 onwards, to abandon the idea of ​​'disputing ANDES from within', as they said in the jargon of the time. It was decided to strengthen PROIFES, as a democratic and plural alternative to the ultra-leftist and supposedly avant-garde organization of the federal teaching movement at ANDES. The management of this entity, instead of recognizing existing differences with due political honesty, created false news, which is repeated and repeated to this day: PROIFES would be a government entity, created by then president Lula and his ministers to weaken ANDES.

For us it is absolutely clear – with all due respect to differences of opinion – that Renova ANDES' attempt to win the elections for this entity and govern it is doomed to failure, not only because the electoral dispute takes place under heavy pressure. use, due to the situation, of the ANDES union machine, but, above all, due to the fact that, structurally, there is control over the entity's political decision-making processes, defined by the militancy of the assemblies and the 'delegates' elected there, and not by the group of members who vote in board elections.


The strike is an important and legitimate instrument of pressure on the working class, to be used as a last resort, when an unavoidable impasse is reached. What cannot be supported is that, with negotiation processes underway, as was the case this year at the Specific and Temporary Education Board, in full operation, a strike is triggered.

Furthermore, it must be considered that, in the current circumstances, the correlation of political forces operating in Brazil is particularly challenging. We must not minimize the impact of the two governments prior to the current one, in which universities and federal institutes were under strong attack, without any space for dialogue being opened, neither with professors or technical-administrative staff (TAs), nor with any public servants. from other categories. It must also be noted that, during this period, there was an intense movement to disqualify – together with civil society – our institutions and what is done there, including outrageous accusations coming from those in the Education portfolio itself.

From the point of view of the forces that defend the predatory elite and their political project, this movement is understandable: we are an obstacle, as well as unnecessary. Unnecessary because, from the perspective of deepening subalternity and surrender, the training of qualified professionals or the production of knowledge aimed at sovereign scientific and technological development do not contribute anything. And a hindrance, because our institutions are the cradle of critical thinking, to be eliminated by those who oppose the proposal that we achieve, in Brazil, full citizenship for all.

In a context, therefore, in which dialogue with the government was open and ongoing, and in which narratives about our institutions, about the importance of our work, are under strong dispute, building and carrying out a long and exhausting strike, which empties our institutions and harms our students, was not the best option. The huge dissatisfaction of teachers and administrative technicians weighed in favor of the strike, resulting from the precarious investment and funding of our universities and federal institutes, and, above all, the sharp deterioration in the purchasing power of our salaries, exacerbated by the six-year freeze imposed by the two previous governments. It is necessary, however, to look beyond one's own navel: what is society's interpretation of the continuation of the current strike at this moment?

Restructuring: why was the PROIFES proposal accepted and the ANDES proposal rejected?

At the outset, I would like to thank Professor Valter Pomar for agreeing with the analysis I made in the previous text, whether in terms of “criticizing points in Andes' initial proposal, or in defending details of the government's final proposal, or in pointing out problems in the counter-proposal presented on the 27th [by ANDES]”. I still believe that this topic deserves to be revisited.

The career restructuring proposal presented by PROIFES continued the 2015 agreement, when this entity and the Dilma government signed an agreement that, for the first time in this century, achieved the reorganization of our careers: from August 2019 (the last stage of the agreement ), all teaching salaries began to be logically generated from the so-called base salary – that of the assistant professor (A) / DI, level 1, 20h, graduate. Achieving this advancement was very important, because career salary grids constituted, before that, a tangle of hundreds of numbers that had no relation to each other.

However, the negotiation between PROIFES and the government that resulted in that agreement ran into budgetary problems, and the percentages defended by PROIFES were not fully granted. PROIFES proposed steps of 5% between all existing levels, encouraging promotion and career progression, but the government, citing lack of availability of resources, granted steps of only 4% between the levels of Deputy (C)/DIII and Associate(D)/DIV.

The proposal to increase these steps from 4% to 5% was, naturally, re-presented to the government in this year's negotiations. Additionally, PROIFES insisted on the elimination of the first two classes, with the creation of an 'entry class' with a salary level 16,3% higher than the current one, making our careers much more attractive.

The 'restructuring' proposal of ANDES/Sinasefe ('Seven inseparable points'), on the other hand, is delayed and anti-academic: it proposes eliminating the classes (tenured, associate and assistant, in higher education), making careers anachronistic in relation to all others existing in Brazil and around the world; demands a reduction in the Remuneration for Degree (RT), reducing the incentive for teacher training – the RT for doctorates, according to ANDES, should be lowered, from the current 115% to 75%; among several other negative aspects, which I pointed out in the original text. Furthermore, these entities are opposed to raising the steps and significantly increasing the salaries of newly hired employees, as advocated by PROIFES.

The government's almost full acceptance of the restructuring proposed by PROIFES was, therefore, a wise choice, given its quality on the one hand and, on the other hand, the retrograde and fragile nature of the other proposal. In view of this, it would be very good practice to review the statement that there was a 'concerted game' between PROIFES and the government, which could be interpreted – although this was certainly not the intention – as a conspiracy theory: an accusation against the government without evidence. of President Lula for having had an unrepublican behavior at the negotiating table.

It is also to be expected, in this episode, a critical, calm and judicious assessment of the two restructuring proposals. It is essential to work in the field of concrete arguments, not speculation, which is why I reiterate here a serious issue already highlighted in my first text: ANDES, in its latest proposal, argues that the salary of current teachers at the beginning of their careers (probationary internship) , which lasts three years) and future hires, is approximately R$1.300 less, every month, than what is already included in the agreement signed by PROIFES, which would cause these teachers, during the period, a loss of more than R$50.000,00 .XNUMX. What can one say about it?

About linear adjustments

In this topic, we present a quick consideration of linear readjustments. ANDES initially demanded a 53% adjustment, in addition to demanding the revocation of all pension reforms. Neither of these demands is incorrect, of course, but both were (and are), at this point, completely unrealistic, apparently designed with the intention of generating insurmountable impasses. In the end, after PROIFES presented replacement rates of 3,5% (2024), 9,5% (2025) and 4% (2026), ANDES sent a very similar proposal – 3,69% (2024 ), 9% (2025) and 5,16% (2026). Regarding adjustments in 2024, these proposals were not accepted.

The diagnosis here was consensual: both entities understood that an adjustment was essential this year. What differed was the evaluation. PROIFES understood that the government's proposal was the limit that could be reached – an assessment that required courage, but needed to be done. And ANDES, unhappy with the acceptance of the PROIFES restructuring proposals, invested in the continuity and radicalization of the confrontation with the Lula government, believing that this will double the position of lack of readjustment in 2024. The future will tell who correctly interpreted reality .

Representation of PROIFES and ANDES: no more fake news!

Entering this topic is extremely important, because it will allow us to overcome incorrect statements from those who, due to ignorance or bad faith, have been spreading the (false) thesis of PROIFES' 'lack of representation'.

ANDES is an interstate union (formerly national, but not anymore, as it is prevented from representing teachers in several Brazilian states). It has 'Union Sections' (SS), which represent teachers from various spheres, in the public sector: district, municipal, state and federal. An internet consultation of the results of the latest ANDES elections shows that the SS corresponding to federal universities and institutes (the so-called 'Federal Sector') are 55, with a total number of affiliates that, in 2023, was 46.280.

PROIFES, in turn, is a Federation. There are 11 federated Unions. One of them, Sind-PROIFES (originally founded under the name PROIFES Sindicato), can, due to its statute, welcome federal teachers from all over Brazil, and has affiliates in no less than 44 institutions (26 universities and 18 federal institutes) . The other 10 PROIFES unions represent teachers from 22 universities and federal institutes. In several cases, the same union represents teachers from several institutions. ADUFG, for example, represents professors from UFG, UFCAT and UFJ; APUB represents teachers from UFBA, IFBA, UFOB and UNILAB-Malês; SindPROIFES-PA represents teachers from UFPA, IFPA and UFRA; ADUFRGS represents professors from UFRGS, IFRS, UFCSPA and IFSUL. The total number of PROIFES affiliates in these 66 institutions is 17.238.

What is the number of federal teachers today? In federal universities and institutes, there are today just over 200.000. This means that the joint representation of PROIFES and ANDES, in terms of union members, is just over 30% of the total category.

On the other hand, of the 63.518 federal teachers unionized by ANDES and PROIFES, ANDES holds 46.280, that is, 72,9%, while PROIFES holds 17.238, that is, 27,1%. This is the proportion of representation of each.

However, the way teachers are consulted significantly changes the real representation of the positions defended by each entity, especially when it comes to joining (or not) strikes and approving (or not) proposals presented by the government. This is because, at ANDES, the definition of these issues is made solely in assemblies, without consulting all members – and this last method is, in general, the one adopted by PROIFES unions, when making relevant decisions. Thus, a search of data available on the internet and social networks shows that the number of members who participated in ANDES assemblies to decide whether to go on strike (or not) was approximately 10.000, while in PROIFES consultations they voted around 7.000 teachers.

In other words, ANDES heard 21,6% of its base, and PROIFES, 40,6%. This is the reality of numbers. Therefore, the myth that is sought to be created – the lack of representativeness of PROIFES – is not supported by objective data. But there is more than that. ANDES' positions refer solely to what the teachers who attend the assemblies think, who, as seen, constitute a very small portion of the total number of teachers.

Many choose not to go to these meetings, especially when it comes to debating and voting on controversial issues. To give you an idea of ​​the level of tension that can occur there, it is enough to mention that in a recent assembly, a professor who defended the non-acceptance of the government's proposal attacked another, who was in favor, with a punch in the eye (a fact recorded on video and published on the internet/social networks). Therefore, the 'category' positions defined by the ANDES methodology refer to the majority opinions of the activists who go to the assemblies.

On the other hand, the unions linked to PROIFES also hold assemblies, but, in general, they choose to define their position – on important issues – through additional 'electronic consultations', in which all teachers have the right to vote, including those who by For some reason they cannot or do not want to go to the assemblies. That is why the number of teachers consulted by PROIFES is much higher in percentage terms. The 'category' positions, as defined by the PROIFES methodology, refer to majority opinions of a proportionally larger set of members.

It is likely that this difference in measuring opinions contributes significantly to different conclusions for the same question (such as whether or not to accept a government proposal, for example), given that the two sets of voters are, in each case, very different. In this regard, I have no doubt that the PROIFES methodology tends to result in positions that are closer and more representative of those that effectively correspond to the majority opinions of all federal teachers.

Now, one thing is clear: from the numbers above, it is absolutely evident that the attempt to minimize and delegitimize the representation of PROIFES is misleading propaganda, motivated, in many cases, by vested interests of those who, without the capacity and/or political will to negotiate and sign agreements, try to take away from PROIFES the legitimate right to do so.

Furthermore, as is known, ANDES appealed to the courts to seek to overturn the agreement signed between the government and PROIFES, directing its SS to file dozens of lawsuits in this regard, with requests for injunctions. Only one of them was successful. The publication of the PROIFES Trade Union Register, which took place this week, threw a wrench into these attempts, which at this point have lost their purpose, since they were based exactly on the lack of this document. It is essential to add two observations here.

First: PROIFES has long complied with the conditions required to obtain Trade Union Registration, which is, therefore, long overdue. Second: it is necessary to vehemently repudiate the false accusation circulating on social media, according to which the granting of PROIFES registration by the Lula government would be a type of retribution given to the Federation for signing the recent agreement. As it is not possible to dispute the merit of obtaining registration, dishonest attempts are made to spread spurious disqualifications. Unfortunate.

We highlight below some issues present in the final paragraphs of Professor Valter Pomar's commentary text.

The negotiating table must deal with proposals from categories, not political parties

The first has to do with the statement that 'it would be possible to advance further in the negotiations', this in the opinion of part of the PT, specifically mentioning “13 presidents of teaching associations that are part of ANDES”. It is worth remembering that, here, the professor refers to the letter that the 13 presidents sent to the president of the PT, requesting “urgently a meeting of the national executive to deal with the federal teaching strike”. Two considerations on this point. One of them is that the subject at hand concerns an entire category, with teachers of the most different political opinions and party affiliations and, therefore, it has to be discussed republicanly by the whole, and not by one part.

The other is the following: such a request gives the impression that an attempt is underway to influence, through partisan means, the course of events, in order to benefit the acceptance of ANDES' proposal, proposing to do so not to honor the agreement already signed by the government (also PT) with PROIFES. Let's face it: quite incorrect and totally inappropriate. Especially because negotiations had already ended.

ANDES' counterproposal, although extemporaneous, is 'assimilable'; but it's very bad

The second question has to do with Professor Valter Pomar's statement: “the fact is that we proved, by a + b, that the total cost of accepting ANDES' counter-proposal is fully assimilable into the current correlation”. Two aspects draw attention. At the outset, the condition of being 'fully assimilable into the current correlation' is necessary, but not sufficient. We agree on one point: ANDES' proposal is in fact 'assimilable' in terms of budget, especially because it greatly harms teachers at the beginning of their careers – and thus saves resources, especially when considering new hires.

But this is not enough: the proposal, in this and other aspects (and this is a discussion that should not be avoided), is of very poor quality. I will not repeat here the arguments I have already presented in the first text, but the fact is that, in relation to this fundamental point (the low quality of ANDES' proposal), not a single counter-argument was listed by Valter Pomar. The other aspect is that, apparently, we failed to understand a reality: the negotiations are already closed. It was the (PT) government who said this. A table is scheduled, yes, for today, June 14th, but it is with the MEC and will only deal with issues 'without budgetary impact'. Creating 'factoids' about this only generates false expectations and, in truth, should be avoided. Therefore, at this point it is irrelevant whether ANDES' counter-proposal is 'assimilable' or not.

At a negotiating table, everyone has to be heard, not just the strikers

A third issue concerns a fundamental divergence. Even if the negotiations had not ended, and even if a term of agreement had not been signed, there is no agreement with Valter Pomar's statement, in the sense that, if the government wants 'an outcome to the strike', it will have to “ negotiate with the entities that represent the majority of those on strike.” The government has to negotiate – and did so – with all representative entities, and PROIFES is one of them, and not just with spokespeople for striking teachers.

Representatives of teachers who were not on strike could in no way be disqualified as interlocutors. Going (or not) on strike is a decision to be respected, but it cannot interfere with the right to be heard at a negotiation table, which belongs to all teachers, not just those who chose the strike as a form of struggle. Now, an 'outcome to the strike' will come, either from a balanced assessment, or, in the absence of it, due to lack of support.

Strengthen PROIFES: the best alternative for the teaching movement

Fortunately, in 2004, PROIFES was founded. If it weren't for that, we would have gone two decades without signing terms of agreement, because that is definitely not the vocation of those who, throughout this time, have been running ANDES. It is public knowledge that the current ANDES opposition does not agree with almost anything that the situation does – so far we have full agreement; It turns out that, by adopting the unattainable thesis of winning the elections and, after that, running the entity, this group, in practice, ends up confusing itself with its own situation and its disastrous and sectarian political actions, which in no way contribute to the defense of the real interests of federal teachers.

The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is, therefore, a disservice to the construction of a new scenario of representation – in which everyone is heard, in a broad and transparent way. A much better choice would be to strengthen PROIFES, coming to the Federation: purposeful, plural and truly democratic.

*Gil Vicente Reis de Figueiredo is a retired professor from the Department of Mathematics at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar). He was the first president of PROIFES.

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