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United Auto Workers Local 4811 begins UCLA strike at Dickson Plaza

Members of United Auto Workers Local 4811 picket at Dickson Plaza. The union voted to authorize a strike May 15, with 79% of participating members voting in favor of the action. (Zimo Li/Daily Bruin)

By Alexandra Crosnoe

May 28, 2024 11:40 a.m.

This post was updated May 29 at 10:07 p.m.

United Auto Workers Local 4811 began its strike at UCLA on Tuesday with picketing at 9 a.m. in Dickson Plaza. 

This move comes after UAW Local 4811 – which represents academic students, employees, graduate students and academic and postdoctoral researchers – voted to authorize a strike May 15, with 79% of participating members voting in favor of the action. The union will also hold a rally at 12 p.m. in Bruin Plaza, according to a post on the UAW Local 4811 Instagram account.

Demands from the strike include amnesty for union members who were arrested or faced discipline from the UC for participating in pro-Palestine protests across UC campuses, according to the UAW Local 4811 website. The union also demands that the University negotiate with members to make policy changes regarding workers’ ability to express political speech, according to the website.

On Thursday, UAW Local 4811 called upon UCLA and UC Davis to join graduate student employees at UC Santa Cruz who began striking May 20. The union filed an unfair labor practice violation against the UC on May 3, claiming the University had failed its responsibility as an employer when it allowed law enforcement to use force against its members.

“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 Local 4811, in a Thursday press release. 

The union held a rally at Janss Steps shortly after the announcement of the campus’ members joining the strike Thursday afternoon. After the rally, members joined pro-Palestine protesters in marching to Murphy Hall as they dispersed from the second Palestine solidarity encampment at Kerckhoff patio. 

“UC thinks that they can make unilateral decisions about our rights, and they need to learn that this is unacceptable,” Jaime said at the rally. “It’s time to stand up for the right to protest, and it’s time to stand up for the right to free speech.”

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

Since the strike authorization, the UC has claimed that the strike is unlawful, saying it believes it violates UAW Local 4811’s collective bargaining agreements.

“The UAW states that this strike can take place due to alleged unfair labor practices connected to ongoing campus protests,” four UCLA administrators, including Executive Vice Chancellor Darnell Hunt, said in an email to students Thursday evening. “The UC’s position is that it would be an unlawful strike that would violate the terms of collective bargaining agreements between the two parties, which include no-strike provisions.”

The UC attempted to end the strike by asking the California Public Employment Relations Board – the agency overseeing bargaining statuses for employees of California’s public universities – for an injunction against the strike May 21. However, PERB denied this request Thursday night.

“We’re glad PERB has rejected UC’s latest demand for special treatment under the law,” Jaime said in a Thursday night statement. “UC has allowed members of the academic community to be brutalized by violent agitators and called in police to trample on our members’ rights in direct contradiction to UC’s own policies.”

PERB subsequently issued a complaint against UAW Local 4811 for violating its no-strike clause in the collective bargaining agreement reached between the union and the University in 2022 and failing to provide sufficient notice of its plans to strike to the University.

“The University is pleased by this expedited action from PERB,” said Missy Matella, the UC’s associate vice president for systemwide labor relations in a Thursday statement. “We are eager to see a quick and just resolution to this matter so that our students, faculty and staff can end this academic quarter without further disrupting their education.”

UAW Local 4811 members have authorized the strike through June 30.

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Alexandra Crosnoe
Crosnoe is the 2024-2025 national news and higher education editor. She was previously a News reporter. Crosnoe is a second-year economics and public affairs student from Dallas.
Crosnoe is the 2024-2025 national news and higher education editor. She was previously a News reporter. Crosnoe is a second-year economics and public affairs student from Dallas.
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