“Dropping Dead: Teachers, the New York City Fiscal Crisis, and Austerity”
Jon Shelton, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
This paper argues that New York City’s workers-especially its teachers-were central in restructuring the city’s system of social democracy during the fiscal crisis of 1975. Though the budget problems mostly resulted from broader structural trends, the cacophonous public debate in New York focused in large part on defining the city’s “unproductive” citizens: discursively linking those who received welfare benefits and the supposedly excessive public sector workforce. Though unionized public employees took action to defend themselves from the most draconian cuts to spending, their actions precipitated criticism that characterized their behavior as selfishly defending their own interests at the expense of the city, thus ultimately helping to undermine the ideological underpinnings of labor-liberalism in New York.
Respondents: Jerald Podair, Lawrence University; Elizabeth Todd-Breland, University of Illinois at Chicago
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