PGC 2020 Slides

PGC 2020 Slides

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clairecahen

October 14, 2020
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  1. The Right-to-Work in Minimal Cities Claire Cahen The Graduate Center,

    CUNY Spring 2019 Teacher Unions, Urban Crises, and the Reaffirmation of the Public Good Claire Cahen The Graduate Center, CUNY Psychology of Global Crises 2020
  2. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. • This presentation is about crises of public welfare in U.S. cities, crises that precede the pandemic and will last beyond it. • I focus on how public school teachers have taken responsibility for addressing urban despair and repairing cities that are tearing at the seams. • Methods: extended case study of Newark, NJ, a former industrial hub that began to decline in the 1970s, and today is a poor, non-white and young city with high unemployment, high rates of homelessness and vacancy, and a water system that is poisoned by lead.
  3. Lead Poisoning in Newark

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  5. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Teachers Reaffirming the Public Good? Chicago, 2019: strike for affordable housing L.A., 2018: strike to end deportations L.A, 2018: strike to end student deportations Oakland, 2019: strike with solidarity schools
  6. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Teacher Union Revival • Teachers are striking and mobilizing for broad demands: higher pay, smaller class sizes, but also for affordable housing, an end to deportations, and the replacement of lead-contaminated pipes. • At a time when other unions are declining, teacher unions are reviving and drawing on a social democratic tradition. This presentation asks: why teachers? Why unions? Why now?
  7. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Why Now?
  8. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Why now? • Answer lies in the extreme and protracted nature of the crisis itself. • After city’s largest uprising since the 1970s, and the election of a new mayor, people are asking ‘why isn’t anything changing?’ • Teachers and students are both confronted to a devaluation of human life and a lack of political leadership willing to defend public welfare. • Teachers step into this vacuum to name and define the crisis. Newark student walk-out, 2015
  9. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Why Teachers?
  10. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. An Outward Looking Profession? • Teaching is relational, it involves ties and care for students, parents, city residents, urban futures “It’s hard not to see the connections between what happens in my classroom and what happens in Newark” - High School Teacher • Degradation between working conditions, learning conditions, and living conditions are mutually constituted.
  11. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Data Snapshots: Public Schools in Newark Students in poorest neighborhoods face “premature death and failing reproduction” (Cramer, 2016)– the structural conditions that reinforce class. Trust in government erodes. City government replaces the pipes in wealthier neighborhoods but not poorer neighborhoods. Teachers educate students who are sick and have higher rates of cognitive impairment. Lead poisoning in Newark homes threatens health of residents and cognitive development of children.
  12. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Why Unions?
  13. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Why unions? • Effects of intercity contagion • “Disaster capitalism,” “austerity,” ”privatization” are part of common sense discourse • Tools are available not just for analysis of patterned conditions but for action.
  14. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. The Path Forward • Challenges that lie ahead for teachers precisely in making clear they are “on the side of the public” while also protecting their own health and that of their students. • This requires them to navigate the contradictions of a dysfunctional political economy, particularly because parents are currently in a state of despair. They depend on schools to provide some of the necessities of life: food for children, childcare, adequate day-time shelter, and an education that opens up the possibility of a more stable future. • For teachers to oppose schools reopening to soon is to risk betraying these parents, these families.
  15. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. The Familiar Threat of Privatization • Already, advocates of school privatization and opponents of teacher unions are on the move, arguing “this crisis cannot go to waste.” • Teachers are worried about disaster capitalism. An advocate of privatization in Newark is already warning that post COVID investment shouldn’t go to the adults in education (i.e. teachers) but rather to children (i.e. students). • This is the very dichotomy teachers are trying to refuse. They are already seeing signs of “teacher-baiting.”
  16. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Concluding Thoughts This research began several years ago, and, already then, the city was in a protracted state of crisis. Interviewees said things like “things are worse now than in the Great Depression.” The narrative was of deterioration, degradation, a downward trajectory that couldn’t easily be stopped. We are now entering a new conjuncture.
  17. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Gramsci, here, came face to face with the revolutionary character of history itself. When a conjuncture unrolls, there is no 'going back'. History shifts gears. The terrain changes. You are in a new moment. You have to attend, 'violently', with all the 'pessimism of the intellect' at your command, to the 'discipline of the conjuncture’. In addition (and this is one of the main reasons why his thought is so pertinent to us today) he had to face the capacity of the right - specifically, of European fascism- to hegemonise that defeat.” (Hall, 1995, p.162).
  18. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Concluding Thoughts • Advantage of living in an era riddled by recurrent crises is that teachers are by now acquainted with the capacity of the right to hegemonise their defeats. • There is more infrastructure to fight back than as recently as 2012; there is greater good sense of what needs to be done and enthusiasm for reviving social democratic traditions. Image: Crystal Colon, Cherish Atlas, 2014
  19. Austerity Urbanism in the Workplace • In today’s new minimal

    cities, public sectors are shrunken and even the most basic government services can be dwindled and cut. • Such “austerity urbanism” (Peck, 2012) can harshen the day-to-day lives of all residents. • But they also have distinct origins and consequences in the public sector workplace. • There, union rights are being gutted and workers are left with few mechanisms to defend public institutions. Bibliography Anderson, M. W. (2014). The new minimal cities.(p. 1118- 1151)(Author abstract). Yale Law Journal, 123(5), 1118. Cramer, J. (2015, October 31). Race, Class, and Social Reproduction in the Urban Present: The Case of the Detroit Water and Sewage System. Viewpoint Magazine. Hall, S. (1986). Gramsci’s Relevance for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 10(2), 5–27.