UC Workers’ Strike Over Palestine Protests to Spread to Irvine

UC Workers’ Strike Over Palestine Protests to Spread to Irvine

Students at University of California–Irvine protest against the Israel-Hamas conflict in Irvine, Calif., on May 2, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service

City News Service

6/3/2024

Updated: 6/3/2024

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IRVINE, Calif.—A rolling strike by unionized academic workers upset about the University of California’s (UC) response to pro-Palestinian protests at various campuses spread to two more campuses June 3, and will reach UC Irvine beginning June 5.
Workers represented by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 4811 hit the picket lines Monday morning at UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara, with UC Irvine workers set to join the lines Wednesday.
The wave of strikes initially began at UC Santa Cruz, then spread last week to UCLA and UC Davis.
The union represents 5,000 workers at UC Irvine and 8,000 at UC San Diego, along with 3,000 at UC Santa Barbara, according to the union. The union has 31,500 members at all six of the universities now targeted by the strikes.
“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 [unfair labor practices], beginning with dropping all criminal and conduct charges that have been thrown at our members because they spoke out against injustice.”
University of California, Santa Cruz graduate students and other academic workers in the UAW 4811 union begin a strike and are joined by UCSC students for Justice in Palestine as they picket the main entrance to campus in Santa Cruz, Calif., on May 20, 2024. (Shmuel Thaler/The Santa Cruz Sentinel via AP)

University of California, Santa Cruz graduate students and other academic workers in the UAW 4811 union begin a strike and are joined by UCSC students for Justice in Palestine as they picket the main entrance to campus in Santa Cruz, Calif., on May 20, 2024. (Shmuel Thaler/The Santa Cruz Sentinel via AP)

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 that the union’s demands are outside the scope of union labor issues. The university has also rejected calls for amnesty.
“We are disheartened that UAW continues publicly escalating its unlawful strike in violation of its contracts’ no-strike clause and encouraging its members to disrupt and harm the ability of our students to navigate finals and other critical year-end activities successfully,” UC officials said in a statement Friday.
“UAW’s goal to ’maximize chaos and confusion' has come to fruition, creating substantial and irreparable impacts on campuses and impacting our students at a crucial time of their education. We are hopeful PERB (Public Employment Relations Board) will intervene and ask the court to end this precedent-setting, unlawful action.”
The state’s Public Employment Relations Board previously declined the university’s request for an injunction that would have blocked the strike, but UC officials said the board issued a complaint against the union saying the walkout is “contrary to the no-strike clauses in their collective bargaining agreements.” Union officials said PERB has also called for both sides to meet and discuss the issues, forcing the university to the table rather than just seeking an injunction.
The union represents teaching assistants, readers, tutors, student researchers, and academic researchers.
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