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SJP and UC Divest Coalition Demonstrations at UCLAUCLA chancellor appointment

UC-AFT files unfair labor practice charge against UC

Pictured is a collage of University Council-American Federation of Teachers’ 2021 rally during ongoing negotiations with the UC and the Palestine solidarity encampment at UCLA in Dickson Plaza prior to its disbanding by law enforcement. (Left to right: Daily Bruin file photo, Aidan Sun/Daily Bruin)

By Alexandra Crosnoe

May 17, 2024 3:54 p.m.

This post was updated May 19 at 11:16 p.m.

The University Council-American Federation of Teachers announced Thursday that it filed an unfair labor practice charge against the University.

UC-AFT – a union representing 6,500 University of California librarians and non-tenured faculty members – filed the charge Wednesday, saying the University failed to maintain safe working conditions, disregarded faculty free speech rights and did not consult members of the union when making decisions regarding online instruction after protests at UCLA and UC San Diego.

The charge could also lead to a strike authorization vote in the future, said UC-AFT President Katie Rodger in the press release announcement.

“This ULP is intended to bolster the protections our members have to continue their expression of free speech and make our campuses safer,” Rodger said in the press release. “We will continue to talk together about the possibilities of future labor actions.”

With this move, UC-AFT joins United Auto Workers Local 4811 – which represents graduate student workers – in filing a ULP violation against the UC administration. UAW Local 4811 filed its charge May 3 regarding law enforcement’s use of force against members of the union when sweeping the UCLA Palestine solidarity encampment.

UAW Local 4811 announced Wednesday that its membership voted to authorize a strike if its leadership deemed it necessary, with 79% of participating union members voting in favor of it.

UC-AFT also said in the press release that the University failed its responsibility as an employer by allowing law enforcement to use force on students and faculty members.

“Several union members were arrested while attempting to protect their students against violent police responses to the encampments,” the union said in the press release. “The university has violated written policies and practices for maintaining a safe environment for students and employees by sending hundreds of armed riot police to disrupt protests.”

The union alleged that the UC disregarded policies on limitations of the use of force in response to campus protests, according to the filing. Specifically, the union claimed the UC violated its 2021 Community Safety Plan by using force against pro-Palestine protesters, including faculty members, when sweeping the UCLA encampment.

“The University will reinforce existing guidelines that minimize police presence at protests, follow de-escalation methods in the event of violence and seek non-urgent mutual aid first from UC campuses before calling outside law enforcement agencies,” the UC Community Safety Plan states.

UC-AFT also claimed that UCLA’s administration violated its responsibilities as an employer when it failed to give the union notice that classes would be canceled May 1 following a violent attack on the encampment and moved online May 2 and 3 after the encampment sweep.

According to the ULP, employees were also prevented from accessing their offices in Moore Hall if they could not provide a faculty ID and a key to the building.

Heather Hansen, a spokesperson for the UC Office of the President, said in an emailed statement that the University believed it had not breached its contract with UC-AFT.

“The University has not violated its contract with UC-AFT,” Hansen said in the statement. “We look forward to working with AFT and PERB (the California Public Employment Relations Board) to resolve the Union’s concerns.”

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