query: community benefit agreements

colist at comm-org.wisc.edu colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Fri Jan 12 19:12:08 CST 2007


[ed:  thanks to Louise for continuing the discussion.]

From: "Simmons, Louise" <louise.simmons at uconn.edu>

Hello: I am also interested in CBA's and agree with much of what Stephen
Barton said in his comment to Jacob.  I'd like to understand the premise
behind the question of whether or not community benefit agreements are
neo-liberal.  To me they seem to be a response to neo-liberalism as it
plays out in cities and communities.  For some analyses, you may want to
check reports that have been produced by Good Jobs First on CBA's, and
also various articles in several journals: Working USA, New Labor Forum
and the Labor Studies Journal.  David Reynolds in Labor Studies at Wayne
State University has done a great deal of work on community-labor
partnerships, including more recent work on CBAs in collaboration with
other researchers.  Some of this has appeared in these various journals,
also.  I guess to sum up my thoughts, and to again agree with Stephen
Barton, CBA's in general are the product of some form of struggle and
their components are based on the power that community and labor forces
have in specific locales.  These can range from card check recognition
for unions, to affordable housing, to job training or other features -
it all depends on who is asking and how much power they have to ask and
expect positive answers.  By the way, I'd be interested in seeing your
literature review, Jacob, once it's done.  Louise



Louise Simmons

Associate Professor of Social Work and

Director of the Urban Semester Program

University of Connecticut School of Social Work

1798 Asylum Avenue

West Hartford, CT 06117

Telephone: 860-570-9181

Fax: 860-570-9139

Louise.Simmons at uconn.edu

colist at comm-org.wisc.edu wrote:
> --------
> This is a COMM-ORG 'colist' message.
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>
> [ed:  thanks to Stephen for replying to Jacob's query.]
>
> From: "Barton, Stephen" <SBarton at ci.berkeley.ca.us>
>
> I would have to reply with the question, what do you mean by 
> "neoliberal".
> If you look at it broadly, European social democracy is a community 
> benefits agreement at the national level, in which a democratic 
> government, strongly influenced by labor or socialist parties, ensures 
> that a capitalist, market economy supports a social safety net, a 
> major public sector, and operates within a regulatory framework that 
> provides significant protections to workers and the public. Local 
> agreements can be steps in this direction, or they can be inadequate 
> patronage deals that lead nowhere but sustain the existing systematic 
> imbalance of forces in the U.S.  Thirty years ago the buzz word was 
> "public-private partnerships", which sometimes meant just a fig leaf 
> over subsidy for business but sometimes meant getting important 
> community benefits in return. With rise of the hard right wing of the 
> Republican Party to political power such benefits became an 
> unnecessary compromise and the "Public-Private partnership" phrase 
> fell into disfavor.  It seems to me that the community benefits 
> agreements are often situations where community organizations are 
> fighting to get benefits that in a previous balance of political 
> forces was considered a normal and reasonable compromise by business 
> interests. I suspect the meaning of a community benefit changes when 
> the community has to fight for it, and build the political power to 
> win the benefit as opposed to being "given" it to buy support from an 
> existing power base.  Note by analogy the situation of unions in the 
> 1930s struggling to establish their power base compared to the 
> complacency of the 1960s. So I agree with the comment that community 
> benefits are not inherently anything, and knowing the detailed context 
> is essential.
>
> Stephen Barton, Ph.D. AICP
> Housing Director
> City of Berkeley
> 2180 Milvia Street
> Berkeley, CA 94704
>
> Tel: 510-981-5401
> Fax: 510-981-5450
> E-mail: sbarton at ci.berkeley.ca.us
>
> colist at comm-org.wisc.edu wrote:
>> --------
>> This is a COMM-ORG 'colist' message.
>> All replies to this message come to COMM-ORG only.
>> --------
>>
>> [ed:  please feel welcomed to copy COMM-ORG with responses to Jacob's 
>> question.  We have had some discussion about CBAs on the list in the 
>> past, and I always it useful to return to good discussions.]
>>
>> From: Jacob and Sarah Lesniewski <jshm at uchicago.edu>
>>
>> I'm a grad student at University of Chicago, and I'm working
>> on a lit review for a professor of mine, seeking to answer
>> the question "are community benefit agreements neo-liberal."
>> I'm having some challenge finding critiques of community
>> benefit agreements as well as trying to gain a historical
>> perspective of why this tactic or strategy has emerged.  Any
>> help or direction would be fantastic.
>>
>> Peace
>> Jacob Lesniewski
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