UC Strike expands to 5 campuses over handling of pro-Palestinian protests

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UC Strike expands to 5 campuses over handling of pro-Palestinian protests

The ongoing strike at the University of California (UC) further expanded to two more campuses on Monday, with thousands of academic workers demanding amnesty for those facing criminal and discipline charges related to pro-Palestinian protests, reported Xinhua.

UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara have been officially on strike, announced the workers' union United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 4811 on Monday in social media posts.

Holding signs of "UAW on Strike" and "Unfair labor practice" while chanting slogans protesting the UC's treatment of pro-Palestinian protesters, union members marched on UC San Diego campus and rallied before the library, where several tents were set up to facilitate the strike, according to videos and photos posted online by local TV stations and the union.

"The bottom line is, all of these workers that were arrested, suspended, etc., need to have amnesty — that's the only way we're going to move forward," Gweneviere Frank, an elected head steward for UAW 4811, told ABC10 News.

UC San Diego in a statement on Monday reiterated the UC system's stance that called the strike "illegal" by violating the union's contract with the UC, in which both sides agree on "no strike" over non-labor issues.

"This illegal strike hurts our students by disrupting typical class delivery, assignment grading and other learning activities during a critical time of year when students are diligently preparing for finals and completing final projects," said the university in the statement.

UAW 4811, the largest employee union in the UC system, represents 48,000 graduate teaching assistants, researchers and others at 10 UC campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The union's members voted last month to authorize a strike to protest the university's controversial response to pro-Palestinian demonstrations on campus, which they said has caused unsafe work conditions and violated their free speech rights.

The first UC campus that stood up and withheld labor was UC Santa Cruz where academic workers walked off the job on May 20. The walkout spread to UC Los Angeles and UC Davis on May 28.

UC Irvine plans to join the strike on Wednesday. By then, the total number of strikers is expected to reach 31,500 at six of the UC system's 10 campuses, according to the union.

"When faced with Palestine Solidarity encampments and other nonviolent protests by academic workers, students, and community members, UC has mishandled and escalated the situation by taking unlawful actions that cut to the heart of our collective bargaining agreements," the union explained the reason of the strike on its website.

In response, it has filed "unfair labor practice charges" against the UC. During the strike, academic workers, including teaching assistants, academic researchers, postdoctoral scholars and graduate student researchers, will stop working until there is a resolution to their charges.

The UC Office of the President has countered by filing its own unfair labor charge against the union. The labor tensions have since escalated as the two sides are battling before the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) over the legality of the strike.

The UC filed a request with the PERB on May 21 for injunctive relief with UAW 4811's charges, accusing the union of "creating substantial and irreparable impacts on campuses."

After the PERB declined the request for lack of evidence, the university on May 29 filed another request for the state agency to order the union to halt its strike, arguing that union members have disrupted classes and access to campuses. The strikes, it said, were "to the detriment of tens of thousands of students, faculty and other campus community members."

For a second time, the PERB has denied the UC's request. The state labor board ruled on Monday that the university had not demonstrated sufficient grounds for the "irreparable harm."

Melissa Matella, associate vice president in charge of the UC system's labor relations, expressed disappointment at the PERB decision in a statement, and indicated that the UC would file a breach of contract action against UAW in state court as a next step.

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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