Since roughly the mid-seventies, when New York was forced to implement neoliberal reforms in order to get a bailout from the US Treasury, cities across the country have slashed social programs and suppressed wages in an effort to stimulate the economy. The effect has been twofold: wealth and power have been consolidated among a small group of people, and public services have deteriorated.
It is this logic of austerity — and the problems it has engendered — that public-sector unions like the CTU are now fighting. Confronted with governing leaders that embrace cutbacks instead of social investment, government unions find themselves in a situation where controlling their working conditions directly impacts the quality of services the broader community receives. Workplace struggle becomes the primary defense against cuts to public services and assets. Davis Smith-Brecheisen reports