By Sophie Squire
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‘This is a strike for Palestine’—more workers join University of California action

Over 30,000 workers are now on strike across several University of California campuses
Issue 2908
Around six people hold placards on a picket line in the sun illustrating an article about the UC strike

Workers on the picket line during the UC strike (Picture: UAW 4811 on Twitter/X)

University of California (UC) bosses have failed to stop thousands more workers joining a strike, which is hitting back at them for calling the cops on Palestine protesters. 

The 5,000 UAW union members at UC’s Irvine campus took to picket lines for the first time on Wednesday. They joined workers from UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, UCLA, UC Davis, and UC Santa Barbara who are already on strike. 

This brings the number of workers on strike to more than 30,000. On strike days, workers have had long picket lines, rallies, and protests. In many cases, students have come together with striking workers. At UC San Diego students and workers rallied together on Tuesday. 

Union leaders say UC engaged in unfair labour practises when it called cops onto campus to violently repress and tear up the Palestine student encampments.  

But workers are clear that it’s about much more than this—it’s a political strike for Palestine. A UAW 4811 branch member and PhD student, Desmond Fonseca, said on a podcast, “We are going out on strike as part of this movement.

“We’re out to defend our right to be a part of this movement, to defend organised labour’s right to fight for a free Palestine. 

“It’s such a historic step that I know all of our workers are very conscious of. We are expanding the horizons of what is possible.

“We’re on the side of workers wherever they are oppressed and exploited across the world—that to me is a victory and it doesn’t end when our strike ends.”

A UC Santa Cruz student researcher, Becker Sharif, added, “We send peace and love from our picket out here at the University of California to the people of Palestine. We gain our strength from your strength, our perseverance from your perseverance, and our dignity from your dignity.”

Workers in other campus unions voiced their support for the strike. Rebecca, a cook in the AFSCME public services union at UC, said, “I stand with UAW in the fight for a better tomorrow. This, right here, is the right side of history. Our fights are one. I’m disgusted and hurt by how UC treats us.

“UC attempts to silence students because you all refuse to look the other way while there’s a genocide going on. They may, but we won’t look away. We will hold them accountable. We will make sure we all get heard.” 

Even a state body has been forced to admit that UC bosses have treated their workers badly. UC bosses asked the California Public Employment Relations Board (Perb) to mount a legal injunction against the strikers for the second time this week. 

But Perb rejected their request and instead filed a complaint against UC. It said that UC had engaged in unfair labour practices and discrimination and had tried to discourage union membership and activity. 

UC Riverside is now the only campus, where students are still in term time, that isn’t striking. A deal between university management and students is reportedly the reason the union hasn’t called action there yet.  

In March the bosses at UC Riverside made a deal with students to stop their Palestine encampment, promising to be more transparent over its investments. 

But students aren’t happy with the deal. They occupied the Student Success Centre, which they renamed Sidra’s Hall, on Tuesday of this week. 

Throughout this strike, workers have pushed for their union to keep calling out campuses. They must keep on pushing for the strike to get bigger and for more unions to join them until they win. 

Trade unionists in Britain should be inspired by workers in the US and push their union leaders to support more action for Palestine. 

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