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Education Reporter

Union Thuggery 101
The University of Missouri is receiving some unwanted attention after conservative website BigGovernment.com posted video clips from a course on organized labor. Lecture comments from the two instructors sounded more like a seminar in coercive organizing and negotiating tactics than a college-level survey of the American Labor movement.

The videos show course instructors Judy Ancel, director of the Institute for Labor Studies, and Don Giljum, a self-described Communist and business manager of the union representing Missouri power company Ameren UE workers, describing various "creative" union negotiating tactics.

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In one clip, Giljum relates a story about how his union gained concessions from management. "So we made all kinds of overtones about sabotaging the equipment," he said. He described how workers put a "strategically placed screwdriver" near equipment and placed articles about equipment sabotage all around the plant, though he made it clear no equipment was actually sabotaged.

The tape also shows Giljum explaining how to make labor negotiations "personal." His tells how his union members stalked a company CEO at church and in shopping malls in order to "bump into him" and ask how negotiations were going. Giljum said the CEO was so intimidated that he started wearing a "flak jacket" on the plant floor because he was afraid of being shot.

For her part, instructor Judy Ancel stated that "Violence is a tactic, and it's to be used when it's the appropriate tactic."

Ancel also approvingly told a story about a friend in Peru. His union "couldn't get access to strike" at the heavily guarded electrical plant, so they sent feral cats into the facility. She explained that "the cats would run around inside and short out the system and cause power blackouts. And that created enough chaos in the system to get to a negotiating position." Plus, she joked, they "got rid of a lot of feral cats."

The University of Missouri and Ancel both charge that the offending clips were a "chop shop" job and, in Ancel's words, "arranged . . . to give the appearance that instructors of the class advocate violence." Insurgent Visuals, the group that obtained, edited and released the videos, responded with its own statement denying that the edited clips "distort the context" of Ancel's and Giljum's remarks and offered a rebuttal of Ancel's specific complaints.

"The fundamental context," said the rebuttal from Insurgent Visuals, "is that [Ancel] and Giljum discussed violence — and militancy, and intimidation, and law-breaking — in the course of teaching impressionable students how to get results through union organizing." The group also asked why Ancel had not demanded that the university release the full lectures if the clips were so misrepresentative of her remarks, so that the public could make their own decision.

The fallout from the videos is ongoing. St. Louis Tea Party activist Bill Hennessy urged people to "melt the phones" to demand the end of labor studies at the taxpayer-funded university. Giljum submitted his resignation to the university and also resigned from his local and international union positions under pressure from AFL-CIO attorney Ron Gladney, according to the pro-labor website Labor Notes (4-28-11). (BigGovernment.com, 4-25-11 through 5-3-11; columbiatribune.com, 4-25-11; stlouis.cbslocal.com, 4-28-11)

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