By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2906

California university workers vote to strike in solidarity with Palestine encampments

The vote to strike at the University of California came in response to police repression
Issue 2906
a crowd shot of students and workers at UC to illustrate and article about the California university strike

Anger among workers and students at the University of California (Picture: UAW 4811)

Tens of thousands of education workers at the University of California (UC) have voted to strike against cops on their campuses and the repression of Palestine protests.  A strike is set for Monday at UC Santa Cruz.

The vote shows how trade unionists can organise action in solidarity with the student encampments.

The 4811 branch of the UAW, which has 48,000 members across 11 campuses of UC, voted almost 80 percent in favour of strikes.

Just hours after workers began voting, the UC administration sent workers an email saying there is a “no-strike clause” in the collective bargaining agreement.

But workers are permitted to strike to oppose unfair labour practices, including actions that endanger and threaten the health and safety of staff. Union members said the universities’ administration did this when it called cops onto campuses. 

Rafael Jaime, a graduate worker in the English department and president of UAW 4811, said, “At the heart of this is our right to free speech and peaceful protest. If members of the academic community are beaten down for peacefully demonstrating on this issue, our ability to speak up on all issues is threatened. 

“As days pass with no remedies for UC’s unfair labour practices, academic workers on more and more campuses are preparing to stand up to demand that our rights to free speech, protest, and collective action be respected.”

If strikes go ahead, they are set to be “stand up strikes”. This means that the executive of the union branch won’t call all of its members out at the same time. 

The UAW wants to employ the same strategy it used during last year’s strike of 150,000 auto workers when it only called out small sections at a time. 

UAW autoworkers did win a pay rise and have continued to force the bosses to hand them union rights in some areas since. But they could have won more if their union leaders had called everyone out together.

Trade unionists across the US and Britain should follow the example of the UC workers.

  • Saturday 8 June: Stop the War trade union conference 10am-4.30pm, Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, London, N7 6PA. Details here or share at tinyurl.com/STWconf0806
  • Send a message to UAW 4811 on Twitter here

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