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John Wright

Washington State just defunded the controversial Labor Education Research Center (LERC) after the Freedom Foundation discovered that the taxpayer-subsidized group, based at South Seattle Community College, is heavily involved in lobbying, strategy, and political activism. This is good news for Washington taxpayers who would rather their taxes be used to provide government services than to provide support for a political interest group.

Here in the Show-Me State, we have a similar taxpayer-subsidized labor studies program associated with UMKC, the Institute for Labor Studies. According to the Institute’s mission statement, “the aim of The Institute for Labor Studies is to serve the educational needs of organized labor.” This mission may seem relatively innocuous; however, events put on by the Institute include symposia with slogans like “Revolutionary Organizing” and “Agitate! Educate! Organize!”

Moreover, there’s this story about an activist-led class at UMSL where instructors were recorded advocating violence, physical intimidation, and industrial sabotage as legitimate tactics to be used during labor negotiations. The instructors at the UMSL class are the same folks behind the Institute for Labor Studies at UMKC.

While I do not know whether UMKC’s Institute for Labor Studies engages in overt political activity, the events and speakers listed on their website suggest an ideologically driven mission. Ideology and political activism are fine, but the public should not be forced to pay for it.

About the Author

John Wright
Policy Analyst

John Wright was a policy analyst focusing on government transparency and labor relations.