One of America's poorest cities copes with economic restructuring
Organizing In Hard Times
Labor and Neighborhoods In Hartford
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Louise B. Simmons
In 1990, Hartford, Connecticut, ranked as the eight poorest city in the country by the census; the real estate market was severely depressed; downtown insurance companies were laying off and the retail department stores were closing; public services were strained; and demolition sites abandoned for lack of funds pockmarked the streets. Hartford's problems are typical of those experienced in numerous U.S. cities affected by a lingering recession.
The harsh economic times felt throughout the city's workplaces and neighborhoods precipitated the formation of grassroots alliances between labor and community organizations. Coming together to create new techniques, their work has national implications for the development of alternative strategies for stimulating economic recovery.
Louise B. Simmons, a former Hartford City Councilperson, offers an insider's view of these coalitions, focusing on three activist unionsrhe New England Health Care Employees Union, the Hotel and Restaurant Employees, and the United Auto Workersand three community groupsHartford Areas Rally Together, Organized North Easterners-Clay Hill and North End, and Asylum Hill Organizing Project. Her in-depth analysis illustrates these groups' successes and difficulties in working together toward a new vision of urban politics.
Louise B. Simmons is Director of the University of Connecticut Urban Semester Program.
In the series
Labor and Social Change, edited by Paula Rayman and Carmen Sirianni.
Labor and Social Change, edited by Paula Rayman and Carmen Sirianni, includes books on workplace issues like worker participation, quality of work life, shorter hours, technological change, and productivity, as well as union and community organizing and ethnographies of particular occupations.