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Join the Sustainability Institute and the Center for Global Workers’ Rights for the second film in our Intersections film program.

On the one hand, the labor movement seems to be in a state of decline, with union membership steadily dropping over the past few decades and power in the workplace being increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few mega-corporations. Binding arbitration clauses and adverse Supreme Court rulings continually are curtailing the power of workers to sue their employers for discrimination or mistreatment. On the other hand, there are glimmers of change afoot. Workers have successfully voted to unionize for the first time ever at a Starbucks franchise. Amazon workers in Staten Island voted to unionize. During the pandemic, workers have fought harder for flexibility, sick leave, and improved safety on the job. But can these efforts be sustained? Can workers find a roadmap for improving their chances to negotiate successfully?

Enter Leon Hirszman’s ABC da Greve — literally “ABCs of a strike.” Hirszman offers an immersion into the sensory details of a strike–the scope, the organized energy, the uncertainty–to reveal a strike executed effectively, where sustained effort by metallurgy strikers at Brazilian automobile factories in 1979 led to demand for better working conditions and pay. Even at a time when Brazil was overshadowed by military control and even in a nation where the industrial owners worked in tandem with the political powers that be, success for the workers was still possible. But running through the film’s experience of the strike is an understanding that success was not easy nor even likely–a reminder of the grit and determination all workers need to fight for their rights. Following the film, we will have a post-film discussion featuring panelists from the Center for Global Workers’ Rights and from Brazil.