More than 100,000 teachers take to the streets daily, to defeat Mayor Dória and stop attacks on the São Paulo municipal pension system

Report by Luiz Carlos de Freitas, São Paulo Municipal Teacher
Translation: Rebecca Tarlau, Assistant Professor, Penn State University

Over the past year, unions and social and popular movements in Brazil have forced President Michel Temer to postpone the debate about his proposal for the retrenchment of the public pension system in Brazil. Nonetheless, the mayor of São Paulo, João Dória, announced in February his plan to attack the municipal pension system. Dória reintroduced the Law 621/16 (SAMPAPREV) in order to make it more difficult for municipal public employees to receive pension benefits. The law also attempts to confiscate part of the salaries of public employees by establishing a 14% and 19% monthly social security contribution. Finally, Dória also instituted a “Complementary Pension Scheme” to privatize part of the municipal pension plan.
We started our strike on March 8, the International Day of Women’s Struggle, as women are the great majority of teachers and public employees in the city of São Paulo. The municipal and state governments responded to our struggle through violence. Mayor Dória sent his municipal police guard and Governor Alckmin sent in the state military police, to attack the teaching body with tear gas and rubber bullets. There were many injuries, including the teacher Luciana of the region of São Miguel Paulista, who had her nose fractured by the municipal police guard.
We responded to these attacks with a 20-day strike and more than 100,000 people taking to the streets daily, protesting in front of City Hall and the Mayor’s office. The teachers screamed this message to Dória and his supporters: “We Will Not Waiver! (Não Tem Arrego!)” which was the rallying call of the 20-day strike. This phrase indicated the teachers refusal to stop fighting  until they won their struggle.

On March 26, the mayor announced to the press that he had the support of the majority of the city council, and that they would vote on the law the next day. Dória used all of his power to pressure his supports to vote on the law. However, the strength of the movement forced the city council to suspend the vote after the municipal public employees, once again, mobilized more than 100,000 people in front of City Hall. The city council agreed to postpone the discussion of the new law for 120 days. However, the city teachers and other municipal public employees warned the city government that if they attempted to debate the law again, then there would be another strike.