Yesterday, we learned of a vicious attack on the labor studies program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and two of the program's educators, Judy Ancel (UMKC) and Don Giljum (UM-St. Louis). Andrew Breibart, the same rabble-rousing fraud who engineered the attacks on Shirley Sherrod and ACORN, using chopped up video footage to deceive the public, is once again behind the lies.
This time, Breitbart is using doctored footage from labor history classes at UMKC to give the impression that the instructors were advocating violence on the part of union members.
Details of the attack are available in a response by Judy Ancel, director of UMKC's labor program.
Fox News and their local affiliates are already amplifying this attack and leveraging it to continue the assault on teachers, unions, and the public sector, in general. Giljum, who is also a manager with the Operating Engineers union, Local 148 in St. Louis, has been asked by his union and by the UMKC to resign his positions.
AFL-CIO strategist Nick Unger commented on this ugly display:
Public education (including post-secondary) and the post-Depression/World War II public sector and trade unions are structural elements of modern democracy. Twenty-first century democracy is built on more than the right to vote. Eliminating these structures—unions, public education and the public sector (and mass transit and more)—removes the underpinnings of democracy, the obstacles to total corporate domination.
Nick’s observation provides a very important frame for a narrative that bears repeating by all progressives, including unions, environmentalists, LGBT advocacy groups, the peace movement, racial justice workers, immigrant rights activists, etc. It's that this is an issue of democracy.
Since our inception, UFE has put forward an analysis to help explain the growing divide between the top one percent and the rest of us. Over the last 30 years, a destructive pattern of rules changes (e.g., tax cuts for the wealthy) and a shift in power (e.g., the declining membership of organized labor) have driven economic inequality to heights not seen in the U.S. since just before the stock market crash of 1929. And as UFE’s mission statement makes clear, this growing gap not only undermines the economy but “corrupts democracy.”
The people bankrolling Breibart, Wisconsin Governor Walker and other corporatist-GOP drones and Fox News, are enjoying ever-growing bank accounts and investment portfolios as a result of those rules changes. These are the likes of the Koch Brothers, the Waltons, Pete Peterson, and other billionaire puppet masters, pulling strings and coordinating attacks on the remaining power of workers (collective bargaining, academic freedom, the right to organize, etc.).
Fortunately, a growing number of people who believe in democracy, economic and social equity, sustainability, and fairness are mad as hell and will take it no more!