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Schwarzenegger, professors star in "Labor Wars 2"

October 15, 2008 |  3:16 pm

Barbarians_at_the_gate As an action hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger made short work of scores of attackers at a time. How will he fare as a governor facing 421 very angry college professors?

The profs have written to Schwarzenegger to protest his veto of $5.4 million meant for labor research programs, including the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. At a time when unemployment in California has reached levels not seen in decades, the professors say the action by the governor, who's usually so business-friendly, seems "politically motivated" and that Schwarzenegger is using the state's budget woes as an excuse to ax a program he doesn't like.

"It violates the basic principle of the freedom to speak out and conduct research even on controversial topics," the letter reads.

But Schwarzenegger said his veto of money for the Miguel Contreras Labor Program, named after the late Los Angeles labor leader, was "difficult but necessary" because the Legislature chose not to make other cuts to balance the budget. The budget, he wrote in a veto message, "fails to make the necessary statutory spending reductions and revenue increases needed to eliminate the state's structural budget deficit going forward."

This showdown is actually a sequel: Schwarzenegger vetoed funding for the labor research programs in the past, forcing the institute and other programs to step up private fundraising and tap other UC budget funds. But the fight goes on.

"Ideologically driven politics should not be determining UC’s academic agenda," said Professor Chris Tilly, director of the UCLA Institute.

-- Patrick McGreevy

Photo: Reuters

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