UAW: Brazil Has It Better Than America

Marcelo de Vasconcellos
by Marcelo de Vasconcellos

According to the Brazilian enthusiast site webmotors, the UAW has come on down for the São Paulo Auto Show for the first time ever. Could it be that they were interested in checking out the product specialists?

Officially, no. The UAW is hard at work researching how and what factors drive Brazilian consumers to buy the cars they do. More specifically, the UAW wants to know if Brazilians consider or would be willing to consider work relations and conditions as factors in their decision.

Ginny Coughlin, the UAW representative in Brazil declared to “The future of the car industry is in Brazil. As purchasing power has risen over the last ten years, everyone wants in on the opportunities.”

The Federação Nacional dos Metalúrgicos (or, National Federation of Steelworkers), the Brazilian union, is helping out the UAW on this endeavor. João Cayres, the Federation’s International Relations secretary, stresses that they want to build awareness in Brazilians of the conditions under which their cars are built.

Case in point: Salaries. São Paulo area workers are the Germans of the Brazilian car industry. On average they earn twice as much as workers in other areas. Cayres likes the still Swedish Volvo trucks as the company that pays the best. According to him, those who sweat under the Italians at Iveco (Fiat’s truck arm) get the lowest salaries of all.

UAW’s Coughlin likes what she sees in Brazil and doesn’t like what she sees a home. Coughlin bemoans that “America is going off in the opposite direction of Brazil. Income distribution is worsening as are work conditions.” She attributes that to the fact that unlike Brazil, U.S. labor laws are local and automakers actively take steps to block unionization. She also complains that temp workers are hired in a de facto permanent condition (without their corresponding rights), maternity leave is only ten days, workers don’t have rights to a vacation and bonuses. In Brazil, all workers have 30-day paid vacation, Christmas bonus, severance compensation and up to 5 months of maternity leave.

So, what do you say? Do you consider worker benefits, salaries and conditions when buying a car? Does Coughlin have a point and should the U.S. become more like Brazil?

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2 of 27 comments
  • Gentle Ted Gentle Ted on Nov 02, 2012

    There are better Unions than the UAW, I am sure Brazil has there own LABOUR organizations and not sure they would like any help or info from a troubled UAW Union from the USA!

  • Victor Victor on Nov 02, 2012

    Brazil is a country ruled by the Worker's Party, PT, itself a lovechild of different industrial labor organizations. It is a deeply unionized country. In fact, pretty much everyone is unionized in Brazil, and that's mandatory. We have specific-oriented Federal Labor Justice, and not long ago the labor courts had what we called "classist judges", which were judges appointed by the unions. That led to countless corruption cases and got canned, but you get the picture. And those labor laws we have, that are so good for the average brazilian industrial worker, are the same that make investing so hard. It has an intense, hazardous effect in the small businesses and entrepreneurship as a whole. Informal work is everywhere, and that leads to higher taxes since informal business don't follow labor laws and don't pay taxes either. So there you go. Brazil is not an example for anything after all.

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that