Unionism and SINASEFE-SP

LEDA CATUNDA, Santos, 2012, acrylic on fabric, canvas, plastic and velvet, 340x400cm.


Presentation by the organizers of the newly released book

“Because reality is in the Impossible” (Clarice Lispector. An Apprenticeship, or, The Book of Pleasures).

In 1842, when Marx argued that some of the characteristics of the newspaper Preussische Staats-Zeitung, an apologist for the Prussian government, consisted of “counting”[I] (in the sense of mere description) and presenting statistics, he considered that the journal infantilized the public as it limited itself to the practical-sensory activity of capturing something through the mobilization of the senses to, object by object, perceive and number the particularities; it mitigated emotions by giving publicity, as a rule, to numbers and not to people; it converted potential intellectual operations that transcended quantitative information into superfluous; postulated the rule of quantity as a criterion for distinguishing between the best and the worst. In effect, the publication subtracted from its metrics the links between the particular and the universal, divorced and made invisible by the circumscribed exposure to the immediate, the quantitative and the superficial.

In 1964, Herbert Marcuse exposed the hallmark of the discourse of an opulent society that had learned to absolve its problems through the offer of consumption and that had programmed a phrase in order to facilitate the identification and unification of sectors, once in tension and antagonistic: whether from a discourse that subtracted non-conformist elements; abbreviated sentences to make it difficult for thought to delve into undesirable content, such as operating with hyphenation (“H-bomb”, “civic-military dinner”) and the use of acronyms (“NATO” can pass unnoticed the fact that there is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization to wage war on countries not affiliated with it); it prevented the development of its meanings as it operated with the rule of the noun and repelled demonstrations, qualification and negation; isolated disturbing contents to the established order; reconciled opposing terms through the well-known Orwellian strategy of defining something by its opposite; repeated sentences over and over again and personified language (“It's 'your' congressman, 'your' highway, 'your' favorite pharmacy, 'your' newspaper; it's translated 'to you', invites 'you' etc.”[ii]) to hypnotically fix content and engulf the audience's mind. In short, the universe of locution characteristic of the cultural industry operates in the sense of fettering mediations and transcendence, of chaining the tension between what is and what could be, of not mobilizing the history and bidimensionality of language in order to manage the behavior of people according to the taste of others and not themselves.

Therefore, and taking advantage of the contributions of the aforementioned thinkers, not only to describe, not only to present statistics, not to limit oneself to the superficial, not to infantilize readers, not to erase the links between the particular and the universal, not to hide the tensions, not to eliminate the nonconformist terms, not prevent thought from transcending the circumscriptions of status quo and that it does not get engulfed by being victimized by the tactics of using and abusing acronyms, hyphenation, personification, unification of opposites, hypnotic and Orwellian language, the SINASEFE-SP (National Union of Federal Servants of Basic, Professional Education and Technological – São Paulo Section), in the opposite direction to that of the bourgeois communication agencies, published a public notice,[iii] in the first half of 2022, to invite researchers willing to record the history of this union, the various perspectives that collaborated with its construction, as well as the working class movement: it is about respecting history, plurality, quality, argumentation rigorous and in-depth examination of time peculiar to the scientific, dialectical and articulating discourse between theory and praxis – by removing the discourse from the shackles of negationism and the commodity form, Unionism and SINASEFE-SP vol. I path,[iv] moreover, by a metric that contributes to the liberation of the working class also in terms of theoretical exposition and is instrumentalized as a libel against the pernicious action of the type of society that is deleterious to language, as, once, Octavio Paz, denounced: “When a society is corrupted, the first thing that becomes gangrenous is the language".[v]

Underlying the speech presented in the chapters below, is the struggle of the workers of the IFSP (Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of São Paulo) that accumulated experiences for a long time, built an association, in 1982, and a union, SINASEFE-SP itself, in 1990:[vi] in the meantime, learning was forged of taking History into account when making decisions, of analyzing conjunctures and their correlations of forces, of rooting union actions with and among the working class and not just for it, of elaborating forms of referrals and of regiments that consolidate/increase democracy among the participants in the struggle.

With this tradition and with the spirit of registering such history, of initiating a research tradition about it and of collaborating for the political-union formation of the working class, as well as helping to build, also in the theoretical scope, its self-emancipation, this union invited Authors to deal, with the time and depth proper to the struggle of workers and not those practiced by the cultural industry, with themes such as analysis of the conjuncture, characteristics of unionism and of SINASEFE-SP itself, its actions and its perspectives, union dialogues among themselves and with social movements, transformations in the world of work, traits of the public service and of the segments represented by the union, and a profile of IFSP aimed at the working class.

Despite the size of the current situational difficulties – 2016 coup and its aftermath; mandate of a government that balances neoliberalism and authoritarianism; COVID-19 pandemic; systematic attacks on education, science and technology; replication of modus operandi truculent of the Federal Executive in the management of the Federal Institutes (portarization, emptying of CONSUP and CONCAMs…); lawfare; multiple forms of harassment; several attempts to overthrow the rights of public servants and to hunt down services to the population, such as the imposition of the “Ceiling of public expenses”, the salary freeze to which public service careers were subjected; attempt to implement a series of other outrages against the Social Welfare State, such as PEC 32, PEC 206, actions to implement the Secondary Education Reform within the scope of the Federal Institutes, of “Reorganization” (euphemism for slicing) of the network, Ordinance 983/2020, Normative Instruction 08/2022-IFSP; expulsion of the union from its historic headquarters –, the female and male fighters, weavers of theory and praxis, developed research and submitted their works for the present work.

Indeed, Syndicalism and SINASEFE-SP vol. I it is, in itself, a piece of philosophy of praxis to escape the ideological traps that pulsate in the current order; it is a libel against capital and which, with research and struggle, is riddled with concepts aimed at the self-emancipation of the working class; its chapters combine and express how authors were, for example, performing their functions in their workplaces to serve the population, in the streets for “Fora, Bolsonaro” and at their study tables investigating how to put into effect the potentialities of human emancipation placed in latency on the periphery of capitalism.

With satisfaction and with the verve that only the struggle of male and female workers gives rise to, we received and published the proposals that were made up of the chapters below, all linked with a denotative semantics of researchers linked to the praxis, which qualifies its history and which contributes thought and action to their long march towards self-emancipation. It is added that if, on the one hand, the chapters are not expressive of the positions of SINASEFE-SP itself, its Functional Coordination and its various Base Coordinations, but perspectives assumed by its authors, on the other hand, the present writings they carry an alignment to emphasize the defense of the working class and to build the necessary unity for the struggle.

In this spirit, we have listed the chapters in order to respect thematic approaches that will help the reader to take advantage of the collaborations that Authors and Authors gave to thought and struggle. The first five chapters deal with the history and organization of SINASEFE at the national, state and local levels: in SINASEFE Nacional's union struggles and its history, Michelangelo Torres gives a panoramic profile of SINASEFE Nacional's struggles, from its founding to 2022; in On the political context of the founding of SINASEFE-SP: lessons for reflection, Hélio Sales Rios invites reflection on the history and prerogative of trade unionism built in Brazil and the conjunctural implications for the organization, perspectives and actions of SINASEFE-SP; in A very brief history of the 2011 Strike at the Sertãozinho campus of the IFSP, Reinaldo Tronto deals with the 2011 strike, notably within the scope of the Sertãozinho campus; in Challenges to union action among public education workers in times of crisis: analysis of SINASEFE-SP's performance at the IFSP campus Cubatão, Júlio Cesar Zandonadi & Ricardo Rodrigues Alves de Lima carried out the important work of empirical data collection that allows diagnosing the scope and limits of Basic Coordination and Functional Coordination within the scope of the campus Cubatao; inSyndicalism in education as a tool for the organization and collective struggle of workers,João de Almeida Rego Campinho deals with the important questions of organization that are fundamental for union activities to become successful and, concomitantly, democratic.

Between chapters VI to IX, there are contributions that mobilize different perspectives to think about the status and transformations of trade unionism: in Beyond the capitalist structural limits reproduced by a corporatist union: elements for a class transition, Márcio Alves de Oliveira contrasts the corporatist and classist conceptions of union and weaves a conjunctural analysis of the crises of capitalist accumulation in order to clarify that, to overcome them, there are limits in the first conception and scope in the second; in Pannekoekian critique of union bureaucracy, Sidnei Reinaldo dos Santos relies on Pannekoek's contributions to point out the limits of the union form (and the scope of the council form) for the advancement of the class struggle; in State and bourgeois law and school unionism in the public sector: a brief theoretical-political note, Gustavo dos Santos Cintra Lima, following an Althusserian approach, invites reflection on the characteristics of trade unionism practiced in public educational institutions; in Worker does not work in parliament: reflections on the Political Philosophy of Mauricio Tragtenberg, Marcelo Phintener presents the important contributions of the Brazilian Author – who successfully mobilizes different methodological underpinnings – regarding work and its forms of struggle. In Chapter X, The impacts of the pandemic on the working conditions of the social worker in Professional and Technological Education, Jéssica de Almeida Moreira Getão uses quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the implications of the pandemic on the work activities of social workers within the scope of the IFPR. In Chapter XI, Federal Institutes and teacher training: a look at the process of expansion and internalization of Licentiate courses, Fanley Bertoti da Cunha, Fernanda Franzoni Pescumo, Kelma Cristina de Freitas & Ivan Luis dos Santos expose the characteristics of degrees in Federal Institutes and reinforce the need for them to identify with the needs of the working class and their children.

May new fights, new victories and new volumes come.

*Anderson Alves Esteves, doctor in philosophy from PUC-SP, is a professor at the Federal Institute of São Paulo (IFSP).

*Fernando Mendonça Heck, doctor in geography from Unesp, is a professor at the Federal Institute of São Paulo (IFSP).

*Grazielle Nayara Felicio Silva, PhD in Social Work from PUC-SP, is a social worker at the Federal Institute of São Paulo (IFSP).


Anderson Alves Esteves, Fernando Mendonça Heck & Grazielle Nayara Felício Silva (eds.). Syndicalism and SINASEFE-SP vol.. I. Jundiaí, Paco editorial, 2023, 304 pages (https://amzn.to/3OUu2nx).


[I] MARX, K. press freedom. Trans. by C. Schilling and J. Fonseca, Porto Alegre: L&PM, 2001, p. 11 (https://amzn.to/3OyuuHB).

[ii] MARCUSE, H. One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. Trans. by R. de Oliveira, DC Antunes and RC Silva. São Paulo: Edipro, 2015, p. 113 (https://amzn.to/47zLTIW).

[iii] SINASEFE-SP. Available in: https://sinasefesp.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/CHAMAMENTO-PARA-PUBLICACAO-DE-CAPITULO-NO-E-BOOK-SINDICALISMO-E-SINASEFE-SP-VOLUME-1_.pdf. Accessed on: 06-04-23.

[iv] ESTEVES, AA; HECK, FM; SILVA, GN F (Orgs.). Unionism and SINASEFE-SP volume I. Jundiaí (SP): Paco, 2023.

[v] PAZ, O. “El desarrollo y otros espejismos” In: The labyrinth of loneliness; postdate; Return to the labyrinth of loneliness. 6th ed. Mexico: FCE, 2019, p. 288 (https://amzn.to/3QVL2fN).

[vi] SINASEFE-SP. Available in: https://sinasefesp.org.br/quem-somos/.

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