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“There is tragedy on both sides of the layoffs:” Privatization and the Urban Crisis in Baltimore

  • Jane Berger (a1)
Abstract

By the 1960s, the urban crisis in the United States was well underway. Structural trans-formations in the postwar economy and accelerating deindustrialization contributed to high rates of unemployment in many cities in the nation's old industrial core. During the 1970s and 1980s, the urban crisis worsened. This article argues that the macroeconomic policies of Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan fueled urban decline. Responding to the waning hegemony of the United States in the global economy as well as to a domestic corporate crisis of profitability, the presidents pursued macroeconomic agendas that prioritized the revitalization of American economic dominance. Macroeconomic policy decisions in combination with white-backlash pressures constrained the range of urban policies the presidents could pursue and often compelled privatization. The federal-level decisionmaking had devastating consequences in Baltimore, Maryland, the city discussed in this article. The macroeconomic and urban policies had racialized and gendered outcomes that plunged the city into the most acute phase of the urban crisis.

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NOTES

1. R.B. Jones, “Urban Services reassigns Family Services workers,” Afro American (March 29, 1986), box 819, folder “UDAG's Action Grants,” Schaefer Papers (hereafter SP), Baltimore City Archives, Baltimore, MD (hereafter BCA).

2. See, for example Sugrue, Thomas, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton, 1996) and Wilson, William Julius, The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy (Chicago, 1987).

3. Martin, Brendan, In the Public Interest: Privatisation and Public Sector Reform (Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 1993) 11.

4. United States Census of Population: 1950, Census Tract Statistics: Baltimore, Maryland and Adjacent Area (Washington, DC, 1952) and U.S. Census of Population and Housing: 1960, Census Tracts: Baltimore, Md. (Washington, DC, 1963).

5. “Baltimore Racial Progress Is Cited,” Baltimore Sun (March 23, 1956), box VI 128, folder “1958–1961,” Committee on Government Efficiency and Economy Collection (hereafter CGEE), University of Baltimore, Langsdale Library Special Collections, Baltimore, Maryland (hereafter UB) and William Oassano to Honorable Thomas D'Alesandro, May 2, 1956, box 23, folder 271, D'Alesandro Jr. Papers (D'A Jr.), BCA.

6. Baltimore Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Number One: Report on the Employment Practices of the Bureau of Recreation” (1957), box 24, folder 327, D'A Jr., BCA.

7. Bernstein, Irving, Promises Kept (New York, 1991); Judd, Dennis and Swanstrom, Todd, City Politics, 4th Edition (New York, 2004); and Mollenkopf, John, The Contested City (Princeton, 1983).

8. Calleo, David, The Imperious Economy (Cambridge, 1982); Kitson, Michael and Michie, Honathan, “Trade and Growth: A Historical Perspective,” in Managing the Global Economy, eds. Michie, Jonathan and Smith, John (Oxford, 1995) 336; Carl Nightingale, “Something's Messing with the Flucture of the Money” (unpublished paper, 1999); Panic, Mica, “The Bretton Woods System: Concept and Practice,” in Managing the Global Economy, eds. Michie, Jonathan and Smith, John (Oxford, 1995) 3754.

9. Katz, Michael and Stern, Mark, One Nation Divisible (New York, 2006) 86101.

10. Goldberg, Ronnie, “The Politics of Local Government in Baltimore,” in Power and Poverty: Theory and Practice, eds. Bachrach, Peter and Baratz, Morton (London, 1970) 119.

11. See for example “City's Police Department Due Picketing,” Evening Sun (September 25, 1963), box 128, folder “1963,” CGEE, UB; Alan Lupo, “C.O.R.E. Asks Shifts of White City Foremen,” Evening Sun (July 19, 1966), box 128, folder “1966,” CGEE, UB; “Plan Head Count of City Workers,” Evening Sun (1963), and Adam Spiegel, “City Study Lists Few Negroes in Top Jobs,” News American (n.d.), folder “Officials and Employees-Baltimore, 1960-,” Maryland Room Vertical Files (hereafter MR), Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Maryland (hereafter EPFL).

12. Baltimore City Council, Journal of Proceedings of City Council of Baltimore at the Session of 1967–1971, First Councilmanic Year, December, 1967- December, 1968 (Baltimore, [n.d.]) 299–300 and “Minutes of the Civil Service Commission of Baltimore,” September 28, 1967, box 3, folder 9, Records of the Civil Service Commission (7), BCA.

13. Baltimore City Council, Journal of Proceedings of City Council of Baltimore at the Session of 1967–1971, Second Councilmanic Year, December, 1968- December, 1969 (Baltimore, [n.d.]) 820. On similar efforts in other cities see Self, Robert, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, 2003); and Waldinger, Roger, Still the Promised City? African Americans and New Immigrants in Postindustrial New York (Cambridge, 1996).

14. Jerome Mondesire, “Rise in Black City Workers Slowed to 1.1%, Report Shows,” Baltimore Sun (April 18, 1974), folder “Officials and Employees-Baltimore-1960-,” MR, EPFL.

15. “Mayor Will Sign Labor Bill Today,” Baltimore Sun (September 30, 1968). C 20, C10.

16. Levine, Marc, “Downtown Redevelopment as an Urban Growth Strategy: A Critical Appraisal of the Baltimore Renaissance,” Journal of Urban Affairs (1987), 107; and United States Commission on Civil Rights, “Staff Report: Demographic, Economic, Social and Political Characteristics of Baltimore City and Baltimore County” (August 1970) 9–10, A6, box 26, folder 495, SP, BCA.

17. Hammer and Company Associates, Economic Report on the Baltimore Region (Washington, DC, 1964), 81; and Callcott, George H., Maryland and America, 1940–1980 (Baltimore, 1985) 8283.

18. Harvey, David, The Condition of Postmodernity (Cambridge, 1989); Harvey, David, “From Managerialism to Entrepreneurialism: The Transformation in Urban Governance in Late Capitalism,” in The City Cultures Reader, Miles, Malcom, Hall, Tim, and Borden, Iain eds. (New York, 2000), 51; Harvey, David, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York, 2005); Overbeek, Henk and van der Pijl, Kees, “Restructuring Capital and Restructuring Hegemony: Neo-liberalism and the Unmaking of the Post-war Order” in Restructuring Hegemony in the Global Political Economy: The Rise of Transnational Neo-Liberalism in the 1980s ed. Overbeek, Henk (New York, 1993) 127.

19. Anderson, James and Hazleton, Jared, Managing Macroeconomic Policy: The Johnson Presidency (Austin, 1986); Boyle, Kevin, “The Price of Peace: Vietnam, the Pound, and the Crisis of American EmpireDiplomatic History (January 2003) 3772; and Calleo, The Imperious Economy.

20. Calleo, The Imperious Economy; Matusow, Allen, Nixon's Economy: Booms, Busts, Dollars, and Votes (Lawrence, 1998); Nightingale, “Flucture;” Reeves, Richard, President Nixon: Alone in the White House (New York, 2001).

21. Burchell, Robert, et al. , The New Reality of Municipal Finance (New Jersey, 1984); Cox, Ronald and Skidmore-Hess, Daniel, U.S. Politics and the Global Economy: Corporate Power, Conservative Shift (Boulder, 1999); Nightingale, “Flucture.”

22. On the white backlash, see for example Edsall, Thomas, Chain Reaction (New York, 1992). On African-American concerns about “law and order” rhetoric see “Rev. Abernathy warns Democrats,” Afro American (August 27, 1968) 15.

23. On postwar conservatism see for example Nash, George, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in the United States (New York, 1976).

24. “Transcript of President's State of the Union Message to Joint Session of Congress,” The New York Times (January 23, 1971) 12. Also on New Federalism see Blyth, MarkGreat Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, 2002); Cox and Skidmore-Hess, U.S. Politics; Judd and Swanstrom, City Politics; Sloan, John, The Reagan Effect: Economics and Presidential Leadership (Lawrence, 1999); Tabb, William, “Economic Democracy and Regional Restructuring: An International Perspective” in Sunbelt/Snowbelt: Urban Development and Regional Restructuring, eds. Sawers, Larry and Tabb, William (New York, 1984) 403416.

25. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, “Special Revenue Sharing: An Analysis of the Administration's Grant Consolidation Proposals (Washington, DC, 1971); Barnekov, Timothy, et al. , Privatism and Urban Policy in Britain and the United States (Oxford, 1989; Conlan, New Federalism; Judd and Swanstrom, City Politics; Kleinberg, , Urban America in Transformation (Thousand Oaks, 1995); Mucciaroni, Gary, The Political Failure of Employment Policy, 1945–1982 (Pittsburgh, 1990); Wallin, Bruce, From Revenue Sharing to Deficit Sharing: General Revenue Sharing and Cities (Washington, DC, 1998).

26. Department of the Treasury, Revenue Sharing and Civil Rights (Washington, DC, [1975]) ii.

27. McDougall, Harold, Black Baltimore: A New Theory of Community (Philadelphia, 1993); Merrifield, Andrew, “The Struggle Over Place: Redeveloping American Can in Southeast Baltimore,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (1993) 102121; and Williams, Rhonda, The Politics of Public Housing (New York, 2004).

28. Juster, F. Thomas, The Economic and Political Impact of General Revenue Sharing (Ann Arbor, 1977); Movenock, David, et al. , Participants' Perspectives on General Revenue Sharing in the Fifty States: Comparisons of Results from Two Surveys (Chapel Hill, NC, February 1976); Wright, Deil, et al. , Assessing the Impacts of General Revenue Sharing in the Fifty States: A Survey of State Administrators (Chapel Hill, 1975).

29. Judd and Swanstrom, City Politics, 173–176.

30. Baltimore Community Relations Commission, “Survey of Employment in City Government—1977” (Baltimore, 1977) ii.

31. Smith, C. Fraser, William Donald Schaefer (Baltimore, 1999).

32. Brash, Julian, “Invoking Fiscal Crisis,” Social Text 21 (2003) 5983. Nightingale, “Flucture.”

33. Janet Hoffman to The President and Members of the Baltimore City Council, December 9, 1975, box 283, folder “New York City—Crisis,” SP, BCA.

34. “Baltimore: New Breed of City,” Forbes (September 16, 1976) Advertisement page 8.

35. Baltimore Community Relations Commission, Survey of Employment in City Government (Baltimore, 1977), 58, and McKerrow, Stephen, “Some Agencies in City ‘Resist’ Hiring of Blacks,” Evening Sun (September 27, 1977), folder “Civil Service Discrimination,” Vertical Files, Legislative Reference, City Hall, Baltimore, Maryland.

36. Jeff Valentine, “Blacks Still Have Lower-Pay City Jobs, Despite Gains,” Evening Sun (February 27, 1976), folder “Negroes-Baltimore-Employment,” MR, EPFL.

37. Jeff Valentine, “Blacks Still Have Lower-Pay City Jobs, Despite Gains,” Evening Sun (February 27, 1976), folder “Negroes-Baltimore-Employment,” MR, EPFL.

38. “Statement of Jerry Wurf,” News from AFSCME (July 31, 1974) 1, box 137, folder “21 Baltimore Strike,” AFSCME President Wurf Collection (hereafter JW), Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University (hereafter WSU) and William Donald Schaefer to Charles Benton, Francis Kuchta, Douglas Tawney, and Robert Hillman, September 25, 1974, box 337, folder “City Employees (Termination),” box 337, SP, BCA.

39. McCartin, Joseph, “‘Fire the Hell out of Them’: Sanitation Workers' Struggles and the Normalization of the Striker Replacement Strategy in the 1970s,” Labor 2 (2005): 6792.

40. Although workers won an agency-shop ordinance from City Council in 1975, Schaefer only agreed to enforce it as part of a contract agreement with AFSCME in 1976. Donald Kimelman, “Union Ratifies City Pact,” The Sun (July 8, 1976), box 129, folder “12 Maryland No. 67 7,” JW, WSU. On AFSCME's continuing influence in the city see for example “City pension proposal draws union's fire,” Baltimore Sun (August 30, 1977), box 144, folder “14 Maryland Council #67, 1977,” JW, WSU.

41. Donald Kimelman, “Union Ratifies City Pact,” The Sun (July 8, 1976), box 129, folder “12 Maryland No. 67 76,” JW, WSU.

42. Biven, W. Carl, Jimmy Carter's Economy: Policy in an Age of Limits (Chapel Hill, NC, 2002); Calleo, Imperious Economy, 139-153; Campagna, Anthony, Economic Policy in the Carter Administration (Westport, CT, 1995); Schulman, Bruce, “Slouching Toward the Supply Side: Jimmy Carter and the New American Political Economy” in The Carter Presidency: Policy Choices in the Post-New Deal Era, eds. Fink, Gary and Graham, Hugh (Lawrence, 1998) 5171.

43. Barnekov, et al., Privatism; Conlan, New Federalism; Kleinberg, Urban America; and Mucciaroni, The Political Failure.

44. Quoted in Smith, Schaefer, 143.

45. [Joint Economic Committee of Congress], “What Baltimore Loses,” Baltimore Sun (August 18, 1981), box 841, folder “Reagan Budget Cuts, WDS #141,” SP, BCA.

46. “What Baltimore Loses,” Baltimore Sun (August 18, 1981), box 841, folder “Reagan Budget Cuts, WDS #141,” SP, BCA.

47. U.S. Department of Commerce, City Government, Tourism and Economic Development, Vol. 2 (Washington, 1979) 32.

48. James, Ellen, “The unemployment rate for Baltimore city blacks among highest in nation,” Evening Sun (November, 2, 1979) C1.

49. Quentin R. Lawson, “Suggested Urban Policy Statement” and Robert W. McGee to Bernard Berkowitz, September 7, 1977, box 266, folder “Urban Policy,” SP, BCA.

50. Antero Pietila, “Outlook for City's Blacks is Unclear,” Sunday Sun (January 6, 1980), folder “Blacks,” LR, BCH. See also Arnold, Joseph, “Baltimore: Southern Culture and a Northern Economy” in Snowbelt Cities: Metropolitan Politics in the Northeast and Midwest since World War II, ed. Bernard, Richard (Bloomington, 1990) 2539.

51. James, “The unemployment rate.”

52. “Murphy's Vision for a Better Baltimore” (Campaign literature), (1983), box 977, folder “Women's Issue 1983 Miscellaneous,” SP, BCA.

53. Jim Savarese to John Hein, February 14, 1974, box 137, folder “14 Maryland 1974,” JW, WSU.

54. “Grapevine,” The Hall Light (April 1978) 1.

55. William Donald Schaefer to Felicia Willett, April 30, 1979, box 90, folder “Department of Housing and Community Development 1979 [I],” SP, BCA.

56. Russakoff, Dale, “As 3,000 CETA Workers Seek Jobs, Baltimore Braces for More Cutbacks, Baltimore Mayor Leads Battle to Limit Cuts in Programs for Cities,” The Washington Post (April 30, 1981) C4.

57. John Ferron to William D. Schaefer from John B. Ferron, March 24, 1981, box 731, folder “Letters of Support for Mayor Testifying Before Congress Comm WDS 141,” SP, BCA.

58. On AFSCME concerns about privatization see AFSCME, Passing the Bucks (AFSCME, 1983) and Hanrahan, John, Government for Sale (AFSCME, 1977). See also Goulden, Joseph, Jerry Wurf (New York, 1982).

59. William Donald Schaefer to David Wilhelm, December 17, 1981, box 841, folder “Reagan Budget Cuts, WDS #141,” SP, BCA.

60. Blyth Great Transformations; Cox and Skidmore-Hess, U.S. Politics; Nightingale, “Flucture;” Sloan, Reagan Effect; Tabb, “Economic Democracy,” 403–416.

61. Cox and Skidmore-Hess, U.S. Politics; Judd and Swanstrom, City Politics; Nightingale, “Flucture;” and Sloan, Reagan Effect.

62. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The President's National Urban Policy Report, 1982 (Washington, 1982), 23.

63. Barnekov, et al., Privatism; Conlan, New Federalism; Kleinberg, Urban America; Luger, Michael, “Federal Tax Incentives as Industrial and Urban Policy,” in Sunbelt/Snowbelt: Urban Development and Regional Restructuring, eds. Sawers, Larry and Tabb, William (New York, 1984) 201234; Peterson, George and Lewis, Carol, Reagan and the Cities (Washington, DC, 1986); and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The President's National Urban Policy Report, 1982 (Washington, DC, 1982).

64. [Poster Board Draft], March 4 1983, box 821, folder “[A–Z] New Federalism,” SP, BCA.

65. Jack Krost, “Annapolis: Delegation from City Faces Tests,” News American (November 20, 1983), box 739, folder “[no name],” SP, BCA. See also Gwen Hill, “City Gains Hinge on Assembly Alliances,” Evening Sun (January 23, 1984), box 739, folder “General Assembly,” SP, BCA.

66. Donald Kimelman, “Increased Tax Relief Weighed,” Baltimore Sun (December 12, 1978), box 427, folder “A-Z Surplus,” SP, BCA. On Baltimore's weakness in Annapolis, see for example Gwen Hill, “City Gains Hinge on Assembly Alliances,” Evening Sun (January 23, 1984), box 739, folder “General Assembly,” SP, BCA.

67. Berke, Richard, “City's Economy Cited as Vital to State, but State Aid Declines,” Evening Sun (October 18, 1983) D4.

68. Laura Hammel, “President Pledged Less Government,” News American (December 13, 1981), folder “Economic Conditions- 1980s,” MR, EPFL.

69. Berke, Richard, “Mayor Sticks to Current Tax Rate,” Evening Sun (April 9, 1984) C4 and “1985 General Revenue Sharing Survey,” (1986) 4, box 949, folder “Revenue Sharing/General,” SP, BCA.

70. Steiss, Todd, Baltimore Region Employment Trends (Baltimore, 1991) vi, 7, 22.

71. Berke, Richard, “City's Economy Cited as Vital to State, but State Aid Declines,” Evening Sun (October 18, 1983) D4.

72. Shirley Williams to William D. Schaefer, August 5, 1981, “Summary Chart of Minorities,” BCA, Schaefer Papers, 740, “Minorities 143.” “Full-Time” (1981), box 740, folder “Minorities 143,” SP, BCA.

73. Michael Wentzel, “Complaining Gets You Somewhere, When Work Doesn't,” The Evening Sun (February 18, 1981), box 977, folder “Women's Issues 1983-Press Releases,” SP, BCA.

74. “Statement by Hilda E. Ford” (August 5, 1983), box 977, folder “Women's Issues 1983—Reports/Investigations,” SP, BCA and “War of words goes on, with Murphy focusing on minority hiring” The Sun (August 11, 1983) B8.

75. Hammel, “President Pledged” and Sandy Banisky, “Manpower Office Plans 40 Layoffs,” Evening Sun (May 12, 1984), box 246, folder “WDS 189 Budget (City) 1985,” SP, BCA.

76. “1985 General Revenue Sharing Survey,” (1986) 3, box 949, folder “Revenue Sharing/General,” SP, BCA.

77. “No Immunity to Budget Cuts,” Editorial, Baltimore Sun (June 5, 1984), box 246, folder “WDS 189 Budget (City) 1985,” SP, BCA.

78. Neil A. Grauer and Janet Worthington, “When Heyssel Played Hardball,” Hopkins Medicine: An Online Version of the Magazine (Winter 2004). http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/hmn/W04/annals.cfm.

79. Charlie Spinner to Hilda Ford, July 25, 1984, box 978, folder “JHH/City Hospital,” SP, BCA and “Full-Time” (Chart on city workforce racial and sex composition), (1981), box 740, folder “Minorities 143,” SP, BCA.

80. For a conservative critique of War on Poverty programs see Murray, Charles, Losing Ground (New York, 1984). For a more positive assessment see Orleck, Annelise, Storming Caesar's Palace (Boston, 2005).

81. Maudine Cooper, “Legislative Update,” Black Women's Agenda News and Views (December, 1981) n.p, box 977, folder “Women's Issues 1983—Background Info,” SP, BCA.

82. “Urban Services Fact Sheet,” (1981) 1, box 29, folder “Budget Cuts,” SP, BCA.

83. “Facing the Crisis: Social Service Planning in an Atmosphere of Uncertainty,” (1981), box 29, folder “Budget Cuts,” SP, BCA.

84. On cuts in day care see Laura Hammel, “President Pledged” On cuts to programs for senior citizens see Mark Miller, “As Sources Dry Up, Charities Work Harder for Donations,” News American (December 13, 1981), folder “Economic Conditions—1980s,” EPFL.

85. Laura Hammel, “The ‘Safety Net’ Gets Smaller,” News American (December 13, 1981), folder “Economic Conditions- 1980s,” EPFL.

86. Laura Hammel, “City's Federal ‘Pipeline’: What Will Reagan Cut?” News American (November 16, 1980), folder “Economic Conditions—1980s,” EPFL. Badham, Portia E., “Returning school students face higher lunch costs,” Afro American (September 5, 1981) 1.

87. On cuts in insect and rodent control employees see Jonathon Lyons, “Manpower Chief Lays Off 40,” News American (May 12, 1984) and Sandy Banisky, “Manpower Office Plans 40 Layoffs,” Evening Sun (May 12, 1984), box 246, folder “WDS 189 Budget (City) 1985,” SP, BCA. On cuts in the Department of Parks and Recreation see Cynthia Skove, “Hocus-Pocus Balances the Budget, Departments Shift Costs,” News American (January 20, 1984) 5A and Ron Davis, “21 Will Be Laid Off in Recreation Agency,” Baltimore Sun (January 14, 1984), box 246, folder “WDS 189 Budget (City) 1985,” SP, BCA.

88. Rhyne, Shelia, “Letters: All God's Children?Afro American (July 4, 1981) 4. See also Katz, Michael, The Price of Citizenship (New York, 2001).

89. Quoted in Williams, Public Housing, 238.

90. Sloan, Reagan Effect, 139.

91. Williams, 239.

92. “Baltimore Joins Top 10 in Poverty Percentage,” Baltimore Sun (n.d.) box 821, folder “(A–Z) New Federalism,” SP, BCA.

93. R.B. Jones, “Urban Service Workers in Shock over Job Layoffs,” Afro American (March 15, 1986), box 819, folder “UDAG's Action Grants,” SP, BCA.

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International Labor and Working-Class History
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