Wayne State U.'s Labor-Studies Center Removes Material From Its Web Site

April 08, 2011

Wayne State University's labor-studies center has removed parts of its Web site that might be breaking laws prohibiting the use of state resources for political advocacy, apparently at the behest of university lawyers acting in response to a recent open-records request, according to Talking Points Memo and other news reports.

Among the materials removed from the Web site of the Michigan institution's Douglas A. Fraser Center for Workplace Issues were links to pro-labor and union Web sites and e-mail lists, a guide for people who are interested in labor activism, and sources of information about employers that could be used to leverage more "socially responsible" behavior from them or could be potentially embarrassing to them.

Officials at Wayne State did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wayne State's action comes more than a week after it, along with Michigan State University and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, received open-records requests from a free-market-oriented think tank, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, for any e-mails from their labor-studies faculty members dealing with the debate over collective bargaining in Wisconsin.

"There was material on the Web site that was pushing very close to, if not crossing the line of, political action, so we are not surprised that the university is taking a close look at those materials," said Michael D. Jahr, vice president for communications at the Mackinac Center.

The Mackinac Center is not concerned with the political beliefs of professors, Mr. Jahr said, but takes steps only when public resources are used for political advocacy rather than academic purposes.