38 Lab. Stud. J. 5 (2013)

handle is hein.journals/labstuj38 and id is 1 raw text is: 
                                                                 *     Official Journal of
                                                                       United Association for
Introduction                                                           Labor Education

                                                                   Labor Studies Journal
                                                                           38(I) 5-6
Introduction            to   the                                          2013UALE
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Conference            Issue                              sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
                                                          DOI: 10. 1 177/0160449X 13490406

Katherine Sciacchitano'
and Jennifer Sherer2

The economic crisis that erupted in 2008 led to renewed attacks on labor and the living
standards of workers around the world. In the United States, unions have faced inten-
sifying assaults on wages, pensions, and other benefits and legal rights to organize and
bargain. The highest-profile attacks have focused on public-sector unions and state-
level legislation.
   These direct attacks are part of a broader, long-term onslaught against the public
sphere, which has become increasingly contested terrain as neoliberal economic
regimes seek to expand and deepen the scope for profit making. In this context, recent
attacks on unions and union rights challenge not only collective bargaining and labor
standards but also unions' social role as institutions that enable worker participation in
democratic political debate and decision-making.
   Papers on the theme of Labor and the Public Sphere presented in Labor Studies
Journal sessions at the 2012 United Association for Labor Education (UALE) confer-
ence addressed both aspects of this crisis. The conference itself took place in the wake
of the 2011 Midwest Uprising, as unions in Wisconsin and Ohio vigorously
responded to attacks on public-sector workers with campaigns that raised fundamental
questions about the future of public education, public services, and democracy itself.
This conference issue also goes to press on the heels of an historic strike by the Chicago
Teachers' Union (CTU-AFT Local 1) that sharpened these questions into full-blown
critiques of privatization and that used the collective bargaining process as a vehicle
for engaging teachers, parents, and community members in spirited defense of an
endangered public sphere.
   Labor and the Public Sphere sessions at the conference included two papers chroni-
cling CTU's historic responses to neoliberal education reform in Chicago, the union's
internal transformation led by a rank-and-file caucus, and the current CTU leadership's
two-year process of internal mobilizing and community outreach in preparation for its

'National Labor College, Silver Spring, MD, USA
2University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
Corresponding Author:
Jennifer Sherer, University of Iowa, 100 BVC Rm WI30, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.
Email: jennifer-sherer@uiowa.edu

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