Javier Milei will face an increasingly atomized unionism during his government
“That same official CGT that maintained a complicit silence until today is now emboldened and bullies the new government that has not even begun its task. It is very clear that it was never their intention to defend the rights of workers, they only fight for their businesses.” It was published by Mauricio Macri on social networks before the event of the piquetero union at the CGT headquarters, which was full of threats to Javier Milei, but, in reality, the president-elect will face an increasingly atomized unionism in which A majority fraction is waiting for the plans it adopts and, above all, for the desire for dialogue it has had since December 10, while another sector is preparing to take to the streets to resist any of its measures.
You may be interested in: Uncertainty in the CGT due to the Milei government: the lack of interlocutors and information triggers union panic
The rift between dialogue-oriented and intransigent leaders is a registered trademark in Peronist unionism throughout history, although the case of Milei is a curiosity: he will arrive at the Casa Rosada almost without relations with the union members, which is equivalent to saying that he He will do so without commitments to that sector, although the signs he has been giving of adding Peronists to the cabinet give hope to the union leadership that the leader of La Libertad Avanza will dialogue to shore up social peace.
Although the entire Peronist union movement opted for the candidacy of Sergio Massa, the alliance that manages the CGT gave warning signals to Milei for possible measures that affect the workers, although it secretly hopes that channels will be opened to negotiate with the new power.
Leaders of the CGT and piquetero organizations, together to issue warnings to the government of Javier Milei
This moderate current is made up of “the Fats” (Héctor Daer, from Health, and Armando Cavalieri, from Commerce) and the independents (Andrés Rodríguez, from UPCN; Gerardo Martínez, from UOCRA, and José Luis Lingeri, from Obras Sanitarias) , the same leaders who supported Alberto Fernández from the beginning, distancing themselves from Cristina Kirchner, and then embraced Massa.
You may be interested: The CGT built a threatening postcard with the picketers to negotiate with Milei, but it opened internal fissures
The tradition of “los Gordos” is permanent negotiation with all presidents, no matter what political color they are. In itself, this sector, which today is made up of two union members like Daer and Cavalieri (another of its members was the late Oscar Lescano, from Luz y Fuerza), was part of the so-called Group of 15 during Raúl Alfonsín’s government, which, as a result of a bold and controversial political agreement, he landed in the cabinet through the appointment of the lucifuercista Carlos Alderete as Minister of Labor. The takeover of the labor portfolio by the union establishment symbolized Alfonsín’s setback since he tried – without success – to sanction the union reorganization law in search of greater transparency and democratic guarantees in union elections.
There are those who attribute the harsh electoral defeat that Alfonsinism suffered in 1987 to the silent task of internal “demolition” of the UCR government by the unions. Not at all coincidental, after losing the legislative elections to the PJ (by 41.29 % against 37.24%) and in a context of extreme political weakness, Alfonsín granted Peronism a new Law of Trade Union Associations whose content gave much more power to the union members. It represented a true Copernican turn with respect to that initiative at the beginning of the radical administration known as the “Mucci law”, by Antonio Mucci, Alfonsín’s first Minister of Labor, former leader of the graphics, who promoted the project to democratize the unions, finally rejected in the Senate by just one vote (that of Elías Sapag, of the Neuquén Popular Movement), in 1984.
You may be interested: The CGT and the Peronist picketers anticipated that they will take to the streets if Milei promotes changes in labor laws
Cavalieri, Lescano, Luis Barrionuevo (gastronomic), Carlos West Ocampo (Daer’s predecessor at the head of Health), Jorge Triaca (from the Plastics Union and father of the Macrismo’s Minister of Labor), Juan José Zanola (banking), José Rodríguez ( SMATA) and Delfor Giménez (textiles) were some of the members of the Group of 15 who became the seed of the “Los Gordos” sector. They are the same people who later surrounded Carlos Menem and launched the concept of “business unionism” by joining the private retirement system through the creation of their own AFJP.
Today’s dialogic unionism has that DNA. It is no coincidence that Milei’s only union contacts have been Gerardo Martínez, leader of the UOCRA, and Luis Barrionuevo, head of Gastronomic Affairs, with whom she sealed a fleeting agreement. They are two of the leaders who build bridges, dialogue and negotiate without prejudices or ideological ties. The synthesis of the flexibility they practice was provided by Lescano, with 29 years at the head of Luz y Fuerza, who confessed: “I was an official member of all governments.”
As leader of La Libertad Avanza, Milei had an implacable stance against union power, although he made a drastic turn after meeting with Martínez and Barrionuevo. That is why he went from promoting a libertarian platform that included the prohibition of the indefinite re-election of union members to being tolerant of union perpetuation in their positions. The same thing happened with the labor reform and with the social works system, whose operation he previously wanted to separate from the unions.
Sergio Palazzo, Pablo Moyano, Mario Manrique and Cristian Jerónimo, exponents of Kirchnerist unionism
Now, the dialogue faction of unionism shows its teeth at Milei, but, at the same time, winks at him with good will. This is what happened with the inauguration of the new authorities of the Union of Workers of the Popular Economy (UTEP), the union of picketing organizations, where the CGT threatened to protest if the libertarian government fires state personnel, privatizes public companies or affects current labor legislation. Privately, however, he maintains unofficial contacts with libertarian exponents and hopes to meet with Milei when he assumes the Presidency.
It already happened with Gerardo Martínez, concerned about Milei’s announcement that public works will be paralyzed and, therefore, there will be layoffs in construction, who came to talk about the issue with Guillermo Ferraro, designated Minister of Infrastructure. And José Luis Lingeri, from Obras Sanitarias, also moved quickly, who is concerned about the possible privatization of AYSA and the changes in the Health area that could affect union influence in the administration of social works funds.
Allied to “los Gordos” and independents, moderate leaders such as Sergio Romero, leader of the Unión Docentes Argentinos (UDA), with traditional ties in the structure of political power, are also active; Rodolfo Daer, from Food; Jorge Sola, from Insurance; Carlos Frigerio, from brewers; Amadeo Genta, from municipal Buenos Aires, and Guillermo Moser, from Luz y Fuerza, among others.
Luis Barrionuevo and Hugo Moyano, with two different attitudes towards the government of Javier Milei
In addition, Facundo Moyano, deputy secretary of the Toll Union, autonomously showed a conciliatory stance towards the libertarian government, in favor of debating changes in labor laws. The Moyano family will remain divided: Hugo, the leader of the Truckers Union, remains silent waiting for Milei to take office, but Pablo, his eldest son, aligned with Kirchnerism, has already returned to his practice of threatening to resist in the shut up any measure “against the workers”.
Milei already knows that he will have other union opponents who have sworn to stop his government measures and who identify with Cristina Kirchner: in addition to Pablo Moyano, in that platoon are Sergio Palazzo, from banking; Mario Manrique, from SMATA, who will assume his seat as national deputy; Abel Furlán, from the UOM; José Voytenco, of rural workers; Pablo Biró, of pilots, and Hugo Yasky, the head of the Kirchnerist CTA, among others. State leaders or public company leaders who suffer adjustments or dismissals could join: for example, the leaders of railway unions (such as Sergio Sasia, from the Unión Ferroviaria, and Omar Maturano, from La Fraternidad), aeronautical workers (such as Juan Pablo Brey, from aircraft, and Edgardo Llano, from APA) or maritime (such as Juan Carlos Schmid, from Dragado y Balizamiento, and Raúl Durdos, from SOMU).
The head of the Autonomous CTA, Hugo Godoy, will be a clear opponent of the libertarian government
Milei will have more rejection among the union exponents of the combative or leftist sector. One of them is Hugo “Cachorro” Godoy, head of the Autonomous CTA, who has just described the libertarian government as “a very dangerous neo-fascist experience.” The new head of the State Workers Association (ATE), Rodolfo Aguiar, is moving along the same line: “Days after taking office, the caste is celebrating and the workers are mortified,” he declared this week. “None of the measures that are anticipated are beneficial for the popular sectors and will affect acquired rights.”
Also located in this anti-mileist trench are the leader of the Single Union of Tire Workers (SUTNA), Alejandro Crespo, a renowned Trotskyist cadre of the Workers’ Party, and the brand new head of the UTEP, Alejandro Gramajo, of the Evita Movement, who debuted with a warning to libertarians who share social organizations: “We are going to be in solidarity with all the sectors that suffer the adjustment and we are going to be accompanying each of the fights.” He has not yet begun to govern, but Milei already has declared enemies in unionism. Another crucial challenge for an inclement time for an Argentina that faces profound change.