Portions of recorded class discussions in which two labor professors at the University of Missouri appear to advocate violence as a bargaining tactic have been drawing attention, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. The edited snippets of class sessions held at the University of Missouri at Kansas City's Institute for Labor Studies appear to have been taken from a lecture capture system -- and have been amplified by several conservative websites.
Judy Ancel, director of the institute, and Don Giljum, former business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 148, are seen discussing various tactics for organizing and effective bargaining. In the segments of the discussions, they and their students seem to be discussing the virtues of using violence, of hinting in the work place that laborers are planning to sabotage industrial equipment, and of deploying feral cats to short circuit a powerhouse in Peru, where workers were fighting for the right to strike.
A source knowledgeable about the sessions said the videos were so heavily edited that they misrepresented what actually happened in class. The videos appeared on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government website. Breitbart is known for sharing footage that embarrasses figures who are anathema to some conservatives.
Ancel has been an outspoken opponent of efforts to make Missouri a "right to work" state.
The university system's public relations office repeated an earlier statement given to the Tribune that officials at the St. Louis and Kansas City campuses are looking into the situation. "Obviously, the comments on the video do not reflect the position of the University of Missouri," Jennifer Hollingshead, a system spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. The public relations staff did not respond to repeated requests from Inside Higher Ed for further comment, for copies of the full video, or for a description of the larger context in which the conversations took place.