In The Shadows Of The 1970s Fiscal Crisis: New York City’s Municipal Unions In The Twenty-First Century

Source: Michael Spear, WorkingUSA, Volume 13, Issue 3, September 2010
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From the abstract:
With New York City confronting significant fiscal difficulties, its municipal unions and their members will be under enormous pressure to agree to significant concessions and possibly layoffs over the next several years. Their ability to fight these demands for concessions will be shaped to a great extent by the strategies that they adopted during the city’s even more severe fiscal crisis of the mid 1970s–a pivotal moment in the city’s and nation’s histories. This earlier crisis, which marked an important early moment in the development of neoliberalism, led to thousands of layoffs of city workers and a three-year wage freeze as well as shifting the city’s politics significantly to the right as the city’s financial and political elite successfully took advantage of the crisis to advance their political and economic agenda. During that period, the municipal unions chose to not directly contest this rightward shift. Instead, they adopted a narrow interest-group strategy and accepted that they would need to work within the constraints of an emergent neoliberal regime predicated upon fiscal austerity and increasingly pro-business tax and economic development policies. This earlier decision continues to shape the municipal unions to this day and will likely hamper their ability to fight the present-day demands for concessions, much less lead them to work with other constituencies to build a progressive alternative to resolving the city’s fiscal problems.

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