The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

UAW-UC votes to authorize strike in response to UC’s actions against pro-Palestine protesters

Image by Ifunanya Okoroma for The UCSD Guardian

The United Auto Workers Local 4811 passed a strike authorization vote on May 15 at 7:10 p.m. The authorization arose in response to the University of California’s actions against protesters at the UC San Diego Gaza Solidarity Encampment and UCLA. The vote, according to a post by the UAW Local 4811 Instagram account, has passed in all units. 

This vote enabled the UAW board to call for a Stand Up Strike. In this striking format, not all represented members will be called upon to strike simultaneously. Instead, certain campuses may be urged to go on strike at different times. The executive board will decide if and when campuses are called to strike and make announcements on a rolling basis. 

“This approach will allow us to respond based on circumstances on the ground,” UAW 4811 Headsteward and UCSD Graduate Student Researcher Gwen Frank explained to The UCSD Guardian over text. “If the UC doesn’t resolve this quickly, more and more of our coworkers will be called to walk off the job.”

UAW published a list of demands on its website for the University of California. The demands are:

  1. Amnesty for all academic employees, students, student groups, faculty, and staff who face disciplinary action or arrest due to protest.
  2. Right to free speech and political expression on campus.
  3. Divestment from UC’s known investments in weapons manufacturers, military contractors, and companies profiting from Israel’s war on Gaza.
  4. Disclosure of all funding sources and investments, including contracts, grants, gifts, and investments, through a publicly available, publicly accessible, and up-to-date database. 
  5. Empower researchers to opt out from funding sources tied to the military or oppression of Palestinians. The UC must provide centralized transitional funding to workers whose funding is tied to the military or foundations that support Palestinian oppression. 

The union filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against the UC on May 3. The charges were filed against the UC in solidarity with UCSD and UCLA faculty, students, and UAW 4811 members who participated in pro-Palestine encampments and faced armed police reactions on May 6. UAW 4811 members then took a Strike Authorization Vote online from May 13 to May 15. All union members in good standing were eligible to vote. 

19,780 members voted to allow the union’s 11-member elected Executive Board to call a strike if the board found it necessary. The university’s Unfair Labor charges following the UC’s response to the recent protests in solidarity with Palestine justified the authorization of the strike.

“UC has committed serious unfair labor practices in its misguided response of intimidation and reprisals toward nonviolent protests by the academic community across the state,” stated Frank. “This strike is in response to UC’s unlawful actions impacting our rights as academic workers and the rights of our union.”

Last week, UAW Local 4811 members hosted a rally in front of Geisel Library in solidarity with the pro-Palestine encampment members at UCSD and UCLA. The gathering was meant to stir union members to vote “Yes” on the SAV. 

On Friday, May 17, the executive board called UC Santa Cruz members to start the strike on May 20. UAW 4811 President Rafael Jaime, along with UCSC Graduate Student Researcher Douglas Grion Filho, and UCSC Teaching Assistant Em Butler announced on the UAW 4811 Instagram. 

“[The UC’s] unlawful behavior has included actively risking the health and safety of UAW 4811 members and members of the University community by creating an unsafe work environment,” Filho stated in the video, referencing the actions UCSD and UCLA took against pro-Palestine protesters, which included UAW members. 

In response to the strike, Labor Relations from the UC Office of the President emailed students under UAW at 1:01 a.m., May 16, with a PDF of a letter. The letter alleges that the UAW strike is unlawful, according to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the UC and UAW. 

The UCOP letter quotes this part from the CBA: “The UAW, on behalf of its officers, agents, and members, agrees that there shall be no strikes, including sympathy strikes, stoppages, interruptions of work, or other concerted activities which interfere directly or indirectly with University operations.”

The letter also states that UAW’s ULP filed with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) does not mean the UAW is allowed to authorize a strike. Because the University’s actions that led to the strike do not tie to the terms and conditions of employment or employment status, this means that UAW could claim that the UC engaged in unfair labor practices. 

“[Our] duties require the UC to take action when protests endanger the community and violate our shared norms regarding safe behavior and the use of public spaces,” the paper states. “Importantly, UC’s actions have not been tied to negotiations with UAW or any employment issues whatsoever, but rather the need to restore safety to our public spaces and our UC community.”

Additionally, the UC has filed a ULP with the PERB against the union. It asks the state to order UAW 4811 and its bargaining unit to cease and desist strike activity. 

In response, UAW 4811 posted this on their website FAQ

“The Public Employment Relations board has sole authority to determine the legality of a strike, and UC’s assertion contradicts decades of settled law. The Supreme Court and subsequent California case have found that even when a contract has a no strikes clause, it does not waive workers’ rights to strike over serious unfair labor practices of the sort UC has committed, and participation in such a strike is protected activity. UC’s attempts to label the strike as unprotected is an intimidation tactic.”

Additionally, the UAW states that it is unlawful and against their ULP for the University to discipline workers participating in protected union activity or without just cause.

Frank stated that the union has filed a new ULP against the UC over their claims that the strike is unlawful.

This is an ongoing issue, and The UCSD Guardian will continue to update as necessary.

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About the Contributors
Kaitlin Lee
Kaitlin Lee, News Editor
Haiku: Me, senior, crazy! Major?: Cognitive Science Send me cat TikToks
Ifunanya Okoroma
Ifunanya Okoroma, Data Visualization Editor
Ifunanya (if-uh-nahn-yuh) is a third-year data science student who spends their free time trying to be the most pretentious human being alive by consuming copious amounts of docuseries and taking Spotify way too seriously.
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