The Nation: University of California’s Institute for Labor and Employment under attack by Olin/Scaife funded "think tank"

[This arrived in my inbox via the LaborGreens mailing list. The line below prompted me to post:

“Yet the question indicates how far public discourse has moved since the National Labor Relations Act became the nation’s basic law giving unions legal status.”

The context is a discussion of whether it is appropriate for the taxpayer to fund anything that promotes the interests of labor [in this case, academic research]. The author highlights the fact that the government spend untold millions (tens of millions? hundreds of millions?) funding programs that promote the interest of business, and that (at least on paper), the official policy of the federal government, since 1936, has been to encourage (not merely permit) collective bargaining.

Again, appropos to the theme of this web log… this is an excellent example of how the far right has attempted to shift the ground on which public policy debates occur, and of how they do it (hundreds of thousands of dollars from in Olin and Scaife money to the Pacific Research Institute in this case), with the ultimate goal being to defund and disable institutions which support progressive action and the rights of the average working person. -Thomas]

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040112&s=bacon

Class Warfare

by David Bacon

in The Nation, January 12th, 2004

The best labor studies programs like to think of themselves as

activist-oriented–firmly grounded in the gritty world of workers.

They don’t usually find themselves at the center of high-profile

political disputes. But in Sacramento cloakrooms, where lobbyists

normally whisper blandishments into legislators’ ears, the University

of California’s labor studies program is now being discussed in

language once reserved for reds, and worse. The program, lobbyists

say, not only organized meetings to stop the recall of then-Governor

Gray Davis, but last summer “union thugs” supposedly even left those

meetings to beat up recall petition circulators.

The accusations sound pretty wild, even considering California’s usual

election histrionics, but they’re more than just overheated rhetoric.

It’s payback time in Sacramento. When newly elected Governor Arnold

Schwarzenegger unilaterally imposed draconian budget cuts on the state

just before Christmas, he wiped out this year’s remaining funding for

the Institute for Labor and Employment. If he does the same thing with

next year’s appropriation in March, the institute will be destroyed.

[…]

Thomas Leavitt