upper waypoint

State Board Upholds UC Workers’ Right to Strike Over Response to Campus Protests

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

The rolling walkout, in which campuses will be called on to join the picket line at times unbeknownst to the UC, is part of what the UAW 4811 union is calling a 'stand-up strike,' which the United Auto Workers rolled out against the Big Three automakers last year.  (Courtesy of UAW 4811)

State regulators denied the University of California’s claim that recent academic workers’ strikes are illegal, clearing the way for thousands of graduate teaching assistants, researchers and others to continue walking off the job as the union expands its strikes this week.

The decision by the California Public Employment Relations Board, or PERB, found the UC did not demonstrate “sufficient grounds” for bringing its complaint, the second time in recent weeks that it declined to order an immediate end to the strike.

Rafael Jaime, a Ph.D. student at UCLA and president of United Auto Workers Local 4811, which represents 48,000 academic workers across the UC system, said it was “heartening to see that PERB has once again upheld the law.”

“We said last week that if UC did not make progress in addressing the serious unfair labor practices, as many as three more campuses could be called to stand up,” Jaime said. “UC instead chose another week of legal saber-rattling.”

The UC system will now seek to elevate its complaint to a breach-of-contract action in state court, said Melissa Matella, associate vice president for systemwide labor relations.


“Now that UC has exhausted the PERB process for injunctive relief, UC will move to state court and is hopeful for quick and decisive action so that our students can end their quarter with their focus on academics,” Matella said in a statement.

Related Coverage

About 1,500 academic workers at UC Santa Cruz walked off the job last month, the first campus to go on strike after an authorization vote by union members. UCLA and UC Davis workers joined in the strike soon after, with three more campuses following this week: UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego on Monday and UC Irvine on Wednesday.

UC officials have alleged the walkouts, which academic workers are carrying out in response to campuses’ handling of pro-Palestinian protests and the police actions against them, are a breach of the no-strike clause in UAW 4811’s contracts.

“We are disappointed that the state agency dedicated to the oversight of public employment could not take decisive and immediate action to end this unlawful strike – a decision that harms UC’s students who are nearing the end of their academic year,” Matella said.

UAW alleges the UC changed workplace speech policies by using police in riot gear against peaceful protesters at UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Irvine – some of whom were faculty and other staff members – and disciplined employees engaged in peaceful protest.

“If management wants work to resume, they should resolve their serious unfair labor practices and stop wasting time and public resources on legal maneuvers,” Jaime said.

Also Monday, the UCLA faculty association said it would file for unfair labor practices with PERB against UCLA for interfering with faculty during their efforts to support student protesters on the nights of April 30 and May 1, when counterprotesters attacked a pro-Palestinian student encampment before police were asked the next night to break up the camp.

In a related move, a group of UCLA faculty invited to speak to the university’s provost about “recent events” publicly declined the invitation in an op-ed published in the Daily Bruin, the campus newspaper.

“We hope that these two actions together add to pressure for the UCLA administration to negotiate with the leaders of the Palestine Solidarity Encampment — which they have yet to do even once except when the Provost came and announced in the encampment the police had been called on the night of May 1 to clear it,” Graeme Blair of the UCLA faculty association said in a statement.

lower waypoint
next waypoint