39 Lab. Stud. J. 5 (2014)

handle is hein.journals/labstuj39 and id is 1 raw text is: 
                                                                       Official Journal of
                                                                         UnedAssocatin for
Editorial                                                              Labor Education-

                                                                   Labor Studies journal
                                                                   2014, Vol. 39(I) 5-8
Labor Confronts Austerity:                                              @ 2014 UALE
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An     Introduction                                     sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
                                                          DOI: 10.1 177/0160449XI4530689
                                                                       Isj.sagepub.com


Stephanie Ross' and Larry Savage2




Organized  labor and working  people  around the globe are experiencing  sustained
political and economic attacks from  governments  of all political stripes. From the
global economic  forces precipitating an international race to the bottom, to capital's
ability to tame those few governments willing to reject neoliberal imperatives, to the
disorganization of unions and division and resentment within the working class, unions
around the world are under attack. Throughout the European Union, hundreds of thou-
sands of workers have had their wages frozen or have been thrown out of work to pay
for an economic crisis not of their making. In the Global South, International Monetary
Fund-imposed   austerity measures continue to foster anti-union labor law reforms and
dramatic reductions in public spending in the name of flexibility and global com-
petitiveness, despite their inability to spur sustained economic development. In much
of Asia, including China and Bangladesh, unprecedented  and militant strike actions
and protests have  erupted in response to increased unemployment   and intensified
exploitation at work that have resulted from employer responses to the global eco-
nomic  crisis. In the North American context, strategically capitalizing on the elector-
ate's economic anxieties, the Tea Party movement's stunning electoral success in the
2010  midterm  elections and the election of a Conservative majority government in
Canada  in 2011  have  set the stage for an all-out legislative attack on unions. In
Wisconsin, ironically the first state to allow public-sector collective bargaining, and in
Michigan,  the cradle of American industrial unionism, the recent adoption of anti-
union right-to-work legislation has justifiably set off alarm bells for workers' orga-
nizations far and wide.
   While attacks on the labor movement are certainly not new, the most recent round
of austerity measures, unleashed in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 Great Recession,
has been  especially challenging for union members. In its simplest form, austerity


'York University, Toronto, ON, Canada
2Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, Canada
Corresponding Author:
Larry Savage, Centre for Labour Studies, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Avenue, St. Catharines, ON
L2S 3A I, Canada.
Email: Isavage@brocku.ca

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