Union Votes for Embraer Strike if Talks Don't Progress

 - September 18, 2019, 3:00 PM

Workers at Embraer’s commercial aircraft plant in São José dos Campos on Wednesday voted to begin a strike next Monday if the company and its metalworkers’ union make no progress in contract talks.

Contract negotiations under Brazil’s complex labor laws specify negotiations between the labor union on one hand, and on the other an industry association representing the whole industry category, in this case aircraft manufacture, including suppliers such as fuselage manufacturer Latecoere. Talks between Embraer and the union began with the usual gestures, as industry offered an inflation-only pay readjustment of 3.28 percent, an end to stability for workers injured on the job, and a repeal to rules banning outsourcing labor. Claiming Embraer has given no real raises in the past four years, the union has asked for an additional 3 percent real wage increase and a guarantee of no contract loosening, citing the upcoming Boeing purchase of Embraer’s regional airline division as a reason to stand firm. Similar strike authorizations have happened in the last two years, without a strike taking place. This year’s authorization also included office workers.

The metalworkers’ union traditionally has proved to be one of the country’s most militant, a posture exacerbated by the fact that Embraer’s headquarters city, São José dos Campos, also is home to auto manufacturers, a traditional strike target. But while rhetoric remains a prerogative, unions have taken a less adversarial posture in recent years, AIN heard at a manufacturers’ meeting earlier this year in the city. The still-weak economy and high unemployment, including in São José, would weaken a strike.

While Boeing will get the São José facilities, Embraer will move the divisions it retains to larger facilities upstate in smaller towns with less militant unions.