"White Coats with Blue Collars: When Physicians and Autoworkers Joined Forces in the Struggle for Brazilian Labor Rights, Health, and Democracy, 1978-1982," by Eyal Weinberg, University of Texas at Austin | Institute for Historical Studies

Interweaving histories of medicine and labor in Latin America, the paper explores the protest campaigns of Brazilian doctors in the early 1980s. In the context of economic downturn and social unrest challenging Brazil’s military dictatorship, physicians mobilized in demand for higher salaries, better working conditions, and public health reform. Frustrated by their wage deflation and loss of job security, doctors disassociated from the liberal tradition of their profession and increasingly saw themselves as employees subjected to unfair labor practices. They not only engaged in blue-collar tactics such as unionizing and striking but also allied with working-class struggles, particularly those of Brazil’s metalworkers. The collaboration rankled the regime’s officials, who were concerned both by the possibility of paralyzed hospitals and especially by the political threat of an emerging cross-class alliance calling for democratic reform. The paper examines the historical settings leading to the unusual cooperation across sectors and reveals the dictatorship’s considerable efforts to curb the protest's momentum.
    
Eyal Weinberg is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Historical Studies. He received his Ph.D. from UT in 2019. His research explores histories of medicine, health, political violence, and human rights in Latin America, with a focus on Brazil. Weinberg is also affiliated with the University of Texas’s Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice. His recent article, “‘With colleagues like that, who needs enemies?’: Doctors and Repression under Military and Post-Authoritarian Brazil,” was published in The Americas in July 2019.

Responder:
Marcelo J. P. Paixão
Associate Professor, African and African Diaspora Studies, and
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
The University of Texas at Austin
https://liberalarts.utexas.edu/aads/faculty/mj25528
https://sites.utexas.edu/marcelo-paixao/

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