Life After Slavery: Unleashing Workers from the Labor Market in Brazil

Vitor Filgueiras

March 15, 2024

Vitor Filgueiras: Life After Slavery: Unleashing Workers from the Labor Market in Brazil

Event Description

In Brazil today, the immense power asymmetry between employers and workers has led to extreme forms of exploitation, including conditions analogous to slavery. Labor law and labor law enforcement have been vital tools to limit corporate power. However, they have not been enough to prevent or stop economic violence and abate inequality. Around the globe, similar patterns have propelled debates on basic income and other “right to live” policies. The Brazilian case offers a novel, radical approach to addressing exploitative employment by producing state-sponsored alternatives for workers rescued from slavery. The Vida Pós Resgate Project, which promotes self-sufficient rural production, unleashes workers from the labor market rather than subordinating them to it. The state assists acquiring land for rescued workers, purchasing the necessary tools for production and distribution, all using funds from fines paid by corporations convicted in the labor courts. The collective organization of workers takes the form of agricultural associations so that workers collectively and independently lead the production process. Rural agricultural production is carried out in a family and/or associative work regime without subordinating ties. What have been Vida Pós Resgate’s failures and successes, and how replicable is the program across sectors and national boundaries?


Vitor Filgueiras is a Professor in the Graduate Program in Economics at the Federal University of Bahia. Professor Filgueiras currently serves in the Fundacentro, the Brazilian Ministry of Labor’s health and safety foundation, where he coordinates projects related to labor reform. He is the author of the book It is All New Again, published by Boitempo, which analyzes the nature of the “great transformations” of contemporary capitalism. Professor Filgueiras holds a post-doctorate degree in economics from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), a doctorate degree in social sciences from UFBA, a master’s degree in political science from Unicamp, and a degree in economics from UFBA. He was secretary of the Brazilian Association of Labor Studies (Abet) between 2018 and 2019 and the Tax Auditor of the Ministry of Labor between 2007 and 2017.