This article analyzes the role of collective bargaining in the Brazilian labor courts in two very different political settings: the democratic era preceding the 1964 coup and the initial period of the military dictatorship, from 1964 to 1968. The study is based on a quantitative and qualitative analysis of collective grievance procedures handled by the Regional Labor Council of São Paulo State. While observing the performance of the labor courts in regard to labor relations, it focuses primarily on three issues: compulsory arbitration, the right to strike, and wage increases. It seeks to reexamine the role of the labor courts in the broader context of Brazilian corporatism and its relations with the labor movement, against the backdrop of a critique of the binary opposition between corporatist and contractualist models of regulating labor relations. In this study, labor judges are viewed as important social actors because their decisions and political and ideological positions were crucial in the enforcement of labor laws.

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