Brazil: An Analysis of Sinpeem’s 2014 Elections

Report from Corrente Comunista Revolucionária (RCIT Brazil), 13.8.2014, and


This year’s Sinpeem elections were marked by widely publicized fraud. Sinpeem has more than 80,000 members, educational workers including teachers, principals, and school operational staff. Of these, at least 20,000 attended large meetings held this year during a fourty-three day strike. A large proportion of those in attendence were young people who, as newcomers among the rank-and-file membership, do not have the same rights as the more senior members of the union. This deplorable lack of equality was first introduced during the administration of São Paulo mayor Marta Suplicy (from PT-Workers Party) in 2001-2004, and from then it has been in force through the administrations of Sierra (José Serra-PSDB), Gilberto Kassab (DEM),andfinally to down to today’s mayor Fernando Haddad (PT).

But the number of votes cast (and consequently the results of the election) do not in any way reflect the actual number of educators in São Paulo. Only 5,963 members of Sinpeem came to the polls and cast their ballot. There are two basic reasons for such a small turnout:

1. There was a tacit agreement between the mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad, and the leadership of Sinpeem (Slate 01), not to grant the workers the day off to go to the polls. As a result, in comparison to the last previous elections of 2011, when nearly 40,000 members cast their votes, this year there were less than six-thousand votes.

2. The leadership of the union, Slate 01, in collusion with the Slate 02 (which in its majority is PSTU-PSOL), did not set up a sufficient number of polling stations in areas and neighborhoods where the opposition slates enjoy most support. Clearly, this was not innocent but was planned to be to the detriment of the opposition slates and to the benefit the two slates whose candidates were the current leadership of the union.

The two slates of the leadership (01 and 02) are really one, because in fact these two slates are not really competing against one another, but rather depend upon and utilize each other by a process of mutual demonization. One accuses the other of "radicalism," while the other accuses its accuser of being "undemocratic." Only the latter of these accusations is really accurate. Claudio Fonseca (from the party PPS) and the Slate 01 leadership of Sinpeem do not conduct the union in a democratic fashion, as most members who have attended assemblies are readily aware. However, Slate 02, which participates in the management of Sinpeem as an “opposition” can in no way seriously be considered “radical.“ Rather, this slate merely pays lip service to radicalism by correctly denouncing Claudio Fonseca as authoritarian. However, when we analyzed the policies of the same currents which make up Slate 02 (PSTU-SoL) when managing other trade unions, either entirely or in part, they were found to be no less authoritarian and bureaucratic than Claudio Fonseca and management of Simpeem. Two examples will suffice: the metalworkers union of Sao Jose dos Campo-SP directed by PSTU and the bankworkers of São Paulo directed jointly by PT and PSOL. Therefore, a member of Sinpeem who votes for Slate 02 instead of Slate 01 is merely “taking six instead of half a dozen,” as a popular saying goes.

Recall that, for not going all the way in the strike of 2012, Sinpeem president, Claudio Fonseca, was nearly lynched after he ended the strike in defiance of the assembly; but also remember that he was fully supported by the members of the current "Unity of the Opposition - slate 2" in his bid to entirely dismantle the movement. If you think back, you’ll remember that it was not only Claudio Fonseca who defended ending the strike, but also the current members of Slate 02. Weeks later, at a meeting of delegates from schools, when it seemed that the president would be butchered along with his board directors because of the how they ended the strike, suddenly Fonseca declared that he "did not understand the criticism against him, because those who recommended that he end the strike were, in fact, the members of the opposition.” He then immediately pulled out his cell phone to display the SMS he received on the evening of the fateful assembly, in which the main member of the opposition, now serving in the administration of mayor Fernando Haddad, wrote to him simply: "Claudio, we have to end this strike." When his name was mentioned in this context, this former leader of the "opposition" lamented that a “personal SMS was revealed in such a way." This is exactly the problem: the fact that the agreement to end the strike should have been kept secret. All of this story was recorded both by audio and video and is available to those willing to request it from the management of Sinpeem. This is the kind of "opposition" there is to the main slate of Sinpeem: a complicit opposition which gets away with its collusion because the rank-and-file simply does not remember or because they simply don’t know what’s really happening. This phoney “opposition” openly argues with Claudio Fonseca, portraying him as the “devil,” but under the table makes these kinds of agreements with him. Only a grotesque fraud like the one perpetrated in the 2014 Sinpeem elections, one which completely eliminates the right of the rank-and-file to decide the future of the union, could keep such traitors in power.

The vast majority of those who went to vote were retired educators. Those who are actually still working in one or more jobs were too far away from polling stations to cast ballots. The radicalized youth who actively participates in union meetings also did not get a chance to vote for the same reason: they could not reach the polls on time. The only possible conclusion: these elections were an unmitigated fraud from start to finish. Their illegitimate “results” do not represent the aspirations of the rank-and-file. The leadership elected in this mockery of democracy, whether from Slate 01 or Slate 02, represents no one. This "victory" by fraud, how it was conceived and coordinated, not only made inevitable the defeat of even traditional currents among the teachers, like Slate 03 (PT-CUT- current “O Trabalho”), but also gives the duplicitous “leadership” and “opposition” the opportunity to gloat about the “losers.”


Explanation of the parties cited:


PT: Workers Party, social democratic party which is ruling the country since 2003

PPS: Socialist People's Party, ex-Stalinist reformist party

PSTU: Unified Socialist Workers' Party, leading section of the centrist LIT which stands in the tradition of Nahuel Moreno

PSDB: Brazilian Social Democracy Party, bourgeois party and main opposition force against the PT-led government.

DEM: “Democrats”, right-wing bourgeois party

PT Current “O Trabalho”: “Labor”, section of the “Fourth International (La Verite)” which stands in the tradition of Pierre Lambert