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Monday, June 10, 2024

UAW 4811 calls on academic workers at UCD, UCLA to strike starting Tuesday

The campuses will join UCSC in striking in protest of unfair labor practices, including the arrests of students and academic workers at UCLA

By VINCE BASADA — campus@theaggie.org

United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 4811, the union representing academic workers across the 11 UC campuses, called on union members at UC Davis and UC Los Angeles to strike starting on Tuesday, May 28. This will be the second round of campuses to join the strike, following workers at UC Santa Cruz who began on May 20.

The union — composed of 48,000 teaching assistants, graduate students, postdocs, researchers, some undergraduates and other academic workers — is calling on members of selected campuses to stop all work-related duties, including teaching discussions, grading papers and conducting research. Striking members would picket and hold rallies upon the return from the Memorial Day weekend, similar to actions taken on the UCSC campus earlier this week.

In calling for a strike, UAW 4811 has cited several unfair labor practices (ULPs), including the University of California’s alleged failures in preventing attacks on the pro-Palestinian encampment at UCLA and arresting an approximate 200 students and academic workers on May 1 and 2. The union has also taken issue with the university’s decisions to make “unilateral changes” affecting members’ workplaces and safety, as well as for disciplining and calling police on UAW members engaging in peaceful protests for workplace changes.

“The regents and office of the president [need to] take leadership to make sure that the situation is deescalated, because this is one university system and it is their job to make sure that it’s functioning well,” Emily Weintraut, a Ph.D. student in the UC Davis Food Science Graduate Group and UAW 4811 Davis Academic Student Employee unit chair, said.  “We’re ready. If they want to prevent an entire UC-wide strike, then it’s up to them to take action.”

5,700 workers are covered by the UAW at UC Davis, according to Weintraut.

The unions’ strike authorization vote was held from May 13 to 15 and passed with a supermajority. Weintraut did not go into detail on how the board and union leadership would choose which, and when, campuses would be called to strike.

On Friday, May 17, the University of California filed an injunction request which argued that the union’s strike was illegal. 

“Allowing the strike to continue will cause the University and its students irreparable harm — UAW members play a critical role in year-end activities like teaching, grading, and ongoing time-sensitive research,” one UC statement released Tuesday, May 21 read. “UAW’s strike is unlawful because the goal is to pressure the University to concede to a list of politically motivated demands closely linked to the protests occurring across California and the nation.”

On Thursday, May 23, the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) rejected the University of California’s injunction request. 

PERB said that the university “did not meet the threshold required for [them] to intervene,” according to an LA Times article

UAW workers previously striked in November 2022 to demand better wages and benefits. The contract dispute was resolved that December.

This story is developing, check back for updates. Last updated: May 24 (10:35 a.m.)

Written by: Vince Basada campus@theaggie.org


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