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United Auto Workers Local 4811 calls UCLA to ‘stand up,’ strike starting May 28

Members of UAW 4811 – which represents academic student employees, graduate students, and academic and postdoctoral researchers – picket outside a Palestine solidarity encampment on Kerckhoff patio Thursday morning. (Aidan Sun/Daily Bruin)

By Alexandra Crosnoe

May 23, 2024 11:39 a.m.

This post was updated May 24 at 2:47 a.m.

United Auto Workers Local 4811 called its UCLA members to strike beginning May 28.

The move comes after the union – which represents academic student employees, graduate students, and academic and postdoctoral researchers – called upon its members at UC Santa Cruz to “stand up” May 20 as the first UC campus to strike. The press release told academic workers at UC Davis, along with those at UCLA, to join the strike May 28.

“Because of UC’s refusal to work towards resolution, and their continued labor practices, our executive board is calling on two more campuses to join UC Santa Cruz,” said Rafael Jaime, president of UAW 4811, in the press release. 

This will be UAW 4811’s first time withholding its labor since November and December 2022, when the union – then UAW Local 2865 and Student Researchers United-UAW – filed an unfair labor practice charge over the UC bypassing bargaining processes. 

Last week, UAW 4811 voted to authorize a strike if leadership thought it was necessary, with 79% of participating union members voting in favor. The press release added that the UC has continued to commit unfair labor practices since the union voted to strike, such as suspending UAW 4811 members who were arrested at UC Irvine last week during a pro-Palestine protest.

UC can resolve their unfair labor practices at any time – beginning by granting amnesty to our colleagues facing criminal or disciplinary proceedings for engaging in protest,” said Jaime, a UCLA doctoral student in English, in the release. “Instead, UC has continued to break the law, and has issued interim suspensions to members of our union wrongfully arrested last week at UC Irvine.”

Pro-Palestine protesters additionally set up a new encampment at UCLA on Thursday morning, with UAW members picketing in support outside of it.

On May 3, UAW 4811 filed an unfair labor practice violation against the UC, alleging that the university’s choice to allow law enforcement to use force against members of the union during the UCLA encampment sweep violated its responsibility as an employer.

According to the press release, the Public Employment Relations Board asked for the UC and UAW 4811 to sit down and work through the union’s unfair labor practice charges against the UC. According to the UAW 4811 website, the UC could resolve its unfair labor practices by granting amnesty for union members arrested in peaceful pro-Palestine protests and making policy changes that counteract the University’s “crackdown on political speech on campus.” 

However, according to the UAW press release, the UC refused and instead attempted to stop the strike by asking the Public Employment Relations Board for injunctive relief Tuesday.

“The University of California filed for injunctive relief with the state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) today, seeking to enjoin UAW’s strike,” the UC said in a press release Tuesday. “While the University continues to support free speech, lawful protests, and its community’s right to engage in the same, UAW is a labor union and its negotiations with the University must be tied to terms and conditions of employment and terms in the collective bargaining agreement.” 

According to another UAW 4811 press release sent at 6:19 p.m., PERB denied the UC’s request for an injunction against members of the union Thursday night and set a time for the University and the union to meet.

“We’re glad PERB has rejected UC’s latest demand for special treatment under the law,” Jaime said in the release. “PERB’s decision to deny their request for an injunction proves that no employer gets to make up its own rules.”

At 8:27 p.m., the UC Office of the President released a statement saying PERB had issued a complaint against UAW 4811 for holding a strike despite its collective bargaining agreement – which contains a no-strike clause – and without providing sufficient notice to the University.

“We are pleased that PERB has issued a complaint against UAW for engaging in a strike that is contrary to the no-strike clauses in their collective bargaining agreements,” the release said. “We are eager to see a quick and just resolution to this matter.”

Spokespeople for the UC Office of the President and UCLA did not respond in time for comment.

Contributing reports by Gabrielle Gillette, Daily Bruin staff.

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