Labor Studies Under Video Attack

Labor Organizing

logoils New Orleans University based, state funded labor studies programs, frequently forced to balance curricula, research, and training between management and union perspectives, would not necessarily come up on the top 10 institutional supports for progressive movements or even the top 100, but it would be somewhere on the list, all of which means that these programs have become regular battlegrounds for the left and right, Democrats and Republicans in the ideological wars conducted at the state level, which are frequently called “budgets.”  Since these wars of the budget knife sometimes get into the news these days, it was simply a matter of time before the scam stingers of Fox News and Brietbart’s got into the act, and recently they did so with the standard sloppily edited hack job on a professor , Judy Ancel, and an adjunct with tight labor ties, Don Giljum, at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC).

This story has a somewhat happy ending.  After a couple of weeks of leaving these folks hanging on the ledge, the Chancellor and Provost of UMKC, issued a statement this week having reviewed the videos and scoring them as having been cobbled together with creative editing.  I might say, who is surprised to find that once again (yawn and sigh!), Brietbart and his crew manufactured seemingly something out of totally nothing.

In looking at lessons various listservs have commented that standing up was important (yes), bringing the union in quickly counted (good idea!), and so forth.  I hate to be cynical, but I really wonder if we don’t have a happier ending to this tale simply because it was a tree that only fell in the forest rather than going viral on Fox and throughout the mainstream press?  In itself that would be good news if (finally!), the rest of the media world is taking everything Brietbart does with a mountain of salt and a jaundiced eye, but that is hardly secure protection for the future.  The odds of keeping all of these video scams pressed down on the local level where good sense and good organizing can eventually prevail still seems frightfully small to me.

In short all we may have really been reminded is that once again we only lose, when we stop fighting, and that luck is no small part of every victory no matter how big or how small.  Here the targets may have been too small to really interest the rest of the big media world, the offenses too trivial even in the worst case, and the source too suspect, so pushing back fast and hard worked well.  The next time I still have the same feeling that we are still scratching our ass and unprepared.

As for labor studies programs with or without video scams, the relentless progress of the state budget wars are going to continue to count coup on these programs, as labor unions increasingly shrink, unable to protect their own members increasingly, and therefore leaving their allies equally adrift.