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People from across the UC gathered to protest against order halting UAW strike

Protesters march on the street during a rally hosted by United Auto Workers Local 4811 on Wednesday. Members of the union denounced the UC’s acquisition of a temporary restraining order Friday, which would effectively halt the strike until June 27. (Aidan Sun/Assistant Photo editor)

By Anna Dai-Liu

June 12, 2024 3:24 p.m.

Nearly 150 people – including graduate students from across the UC – gathered Wednesday to protest a restraining order halting the ongoing United Auto Workers Local 4811 strike, as well as the University’s use of force against student workers protesting in support of Palestine.

Protesters gathered between the Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center – where the UC Board of Regents was meeting – and Pauley Pavilion at 11 a.m., holding signs that read, “Drop the charges” and “We will not be silenced.” The union-led rally included graduate student speakers from various UC campuses, punctuated by chants of “Shame!”

An Orange County Superior Court judge issued a restraining order against the strike Friday, effectively putting the strike on hold until June 27. The California Public Employment Relations Board previously denied two requests for injunctive relief by the UC, effectively denying the University’s requests to end the strike. 

[Related: Orange County Superior Court orders halt to ongoing UAW strike]

Wednesday’s protest follows UCPD’s arrest of 27 pro-Palestine protesters at UCLA on Monday. The crowd of protesters grew as they marched to the UCPD station, where speakers condemned police action against UC students and workers. Eight people participating in pro-Palestine protests were also arrested Monday at UC Santa Cruz, and dozens of police officers swept a building being occupied by protesters at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday morning.

Nora, a graduate student and Labor 4 Palestine Los Angeles organizer who did not provide their last name, delivered statements on behalf of two graduate students arrested Monday at Dodd Hall. Those arrested have been barred from campus until May 24. 

One student described having rubber bullets shot at them and being blockaded by police.

“How can a public university, and by extension the state, value its students so little and its property – our property – so much if they spray paint on buildings, tip trash cans or just existing on public property, (it) warrants ending a student’s right to an education?” Nora read from another statement written by Joseph Murphy, a graduate student in sociology arrested Monday. 

[Related: Pro-Palestine protesters arrested following protests, encampments on campus]

Protesters block the street in front of the UCPD station on Westwood Plaza, holding signs that read, “We will strike back” and “Drop all charges.” (Aidan Sun/Assistant Photo editor)

Members of Faculty for Justice in Palestine at UCLA and University Council-American Federation of Teachers, which represents librarians and non-tenured faculty, were also present. Both UC-AFT and the UCLA Faculty Association a non-unionized faculty organization – have filed unfair labor practice charges against the UC for its treatment of members during the Palestine solidarity encampment at UCLA and its aftermath.

Lauren, an academic student employee at UCLA who was granted partial anonymity for fear of retaliation, said she wanted to attend the rally to support her students who have been protesting. Members of UAW Local 4811 have been on strike at multiple UC campuses since May 20 over the University’s use of force against pro-Palestine protesters in the union – including during the May 2 police sweep of the Palestine solidarity encampment at UCLA.

“I’m very lucky that my students feel comfortable sharing their experiences with me,” she said. “But it was so hard for me to listen to what they were telling me – I can’t imagine what it was like for them to experience it.”

Lauren added that she saw the UC’s obtainment of a temporary restraining order against the union as a calculated move. 

Workers from across LA and the UCs rallied in protest against the court’s decision, including Anny Viloria Winnett, the academic student employee chair for UAW Local 4811 at UCLA. Viloria Winnett, a doctoral student of community health sciences, said she views the order as “not just illegal, unlawful, but an immoral act against workers’ rights.”

In a Friday press release, UAW Local 4811 said the strike’s legality should be decided by the board, rather than an outside court. 

“This temporary restraining order will not change the minds of the UAW 4811 members who now see the UC’s hypocrisy. This TRO does not undo the union power that was building with every stand-up call,” said Emma Hanlon, a doctoral student in religious studies at UC Santa Barbara, in a speech. “Most importantly, this temporary restraining order does not resolve the unfair labor practices of the UC.”

During the regents’ meeting, the board also announced that University of Miami President Julio Frenk would serve as UCLA’s next chancellor. Viloria Winnett said that while she does not know much about Frenk’s stances, she hopes that his actions reflect the UC’s values.

“The most important (thing) is that no matter who is appointed, that if they’re coming to the University of California – that at least in paper says that it stands for equity, for justice, for freedom of speech, for academic freedom – we need them to live up to that promise,” she said.

Viloria Winnett added that workers will continue to protest and are planning to demonstrate in front of LA City Hall with graduate workers from USC on Friday.

While UAW Local 4811 did not call for divestment in its demands to the UC, multiple speakers reiterated that they planned to continue demanding that the University divest from companies affiliated with the Israel military and reinvest in workers’ needs. 

“The past anti-war and anti-apartheid efforts in the UC system were long and arduous. But these struggles are never in vain,” said Heeba Hartit, the academic student employee chair for UAW Local 4811 at UC Riverside, in a speech. “We workers and students at the UC will not stop fighting. And if the UC wants to join us on the right side of history, they must resolve their ULP. … We know that when we fight, we win.”

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Anna Dai-Liu | Slot editor
Dai-Liu is a 2024-2025 slot editor and a News senior staff writer. She was previously the 2023-2024 science and health editor. Dai-Liu is a fourth-year comparative literature and neuroscience student from San Diego.
Dai-Liu is a 2024-2025 slot editor and a News senior staff writer. She was previously the 2023-2024 science and health editor. Dai-Liu is a fourth-year comparative literature and neuroscience student from San Diego.
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