Extensive interviews and confidential police and judicial records are used to explore the life of Marcos Andreotti (1910–1984), a lifelong Communist labor leader active in the industrial ABC region of greater São Paulo. The intensified persecution faced by Andreotti in the early Cold War years is placed within the trajectory of Andreotti’s working life as a skilled electrician. The labor market demand for skilled workers, it is shown, provided the foundation for Andreotti’s sustained militancy and decisively shaped his philosophy of shop floor organizing based on a dialectic between the skilled and the unskilled. This essay sheds new light on the poorly understood foundations of working-class political and labor militancy, while highlighting unexpected continuities between the era of Andreotti, before 1964, and the world of the “New Unionism” in the late 1970s, which began in ABC under the leadership of Brazil’s current president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

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