Judge Orders Halt to UC Workers’ Strike Over Response to Pro-Palestine Protests

Judge Orders Halt to UC Workers’ Strike Over Response to Pro-Palestine Protests

UCLA (University of California–Los Angeles) academic workers from United Auto Workers Local 4811 picket on the first day of a strike in Los Angeles, Calif., on May 28, 2024. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

6/8/2024

Updated: 6/9/2024

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SAN DIEGO—An Orange County Superior Court judge on June 7 ordered a halt to a strike by University of California academic workers who have been walking picket lines at a handful of campuses—including UC San Diego—to protest the response to pro-Palestinian protests.
The university system filed suit earlier this week in hopes of stopping the strikes, following two unsuccessful attempts to obtain an injunction against the union from the state Public Employment Relations Board.
“We are extremely grateful for a pause in this strike so our students can complete their academic studies,” Melissa Matella, UC associate vice president for Systemwide Labor Relations, said in a statement following the ruling by Judge Randall Sherman. “The strike would have caused irreversible setbacks to students’ academic achievements and may have stalled critical research projects in the final quarter.
“From the beginning, we have stated this strike was illegal and a violation of our contracts’ mutually agreed upon no-strike clauses,” Ms. Matella said. “We respect the advocacy and progressive action towards issues that matter to our community and our community’s right to engage in lawful free speech activities—activities that continue to occur across the system. However, UAW’s strike is unrelated to employment terms, violates the parties’ agreements, and runs contrary to established labor principles.”
There was no immediate response from the workers’ union, United Auto Workers Local 4811.
The unionized workers initially began their protest at UC Santa Cruz, then spread last week to UCLA and UC Davis. On June 3, workers began picketing at UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine joined the walkout on June 5.
“For the last month, UC has used and condoned violence against workers and students peacefully protesting on campus for peace and freedom in Palestine,” Rafael Jaime, president of UAW Local 4811, said last week in a statement.
“Rather than put their energies into resolution, UC is attempting to halt the strike through legal procedures. They have not been successful, and this strike will roll on. We are united in our demand that UC address these serious ULPs, beginning with dropping all criminal and conduct charges that have been thrown at our members because they spoke out against injustice.”
UAW Local 4811 is asking the UC schools to give amnesty to all academic employees and students who faced arrest or disciplinary actions for protesting at campuses. The union also wants the students to have guarantees of freedom of speech and political expression on campus and is asking for researchers to be able to opt out of funding sources tied to the Israeli Defense Forces.
The UC system has blasted the union’s allegations and filed unfair labor practice complaints of its own, saying the union’s labor contract has a no-strike provision and the union’s demands are outside the scope of union labor issues. The university has also rejected calls for amnesty.
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