University of California sues local UAW over campus strikes

June 6, 2024
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The University of California is suing United Auto Workers Local 4811, the union that represents thousands of employees who have gone on strike at multiple UC campuses in recent weeks.

The strikes are a show of support for the hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters at UC campuses, many of them students and faculty, who were arrested, suspended or banned from campus during and after pro-Palestinian protests.

“As we have made clear from the beginning, we are standing up against UC’s violent crackdown on our right to free speech and peaceful protest embodied in our employment rights,” Rafael Jaime, President of UAW 4811, said in a statement Wednesday in response to the suit. “UC has caused our coworkers to be maced, beaten, arrested, and barred from work for peacefully demonstrating. We cannot accept UC’s serious unfair labor practices. We have to protect our fundamental employment rights.”

The suit the UC Regents filed against the UAW Tuesday, however, alleges that the strikes, which have resulted in canceled lectures and neglected research, amount to a breach of contract. The suit asks for a temporary restraining order against UAW to stop the strikes.

“Without immediate injunctive relief, the University will suffer irreparable harm to its operations, as well as the educational experience and academic progress of its students,” the suit said.

Melissa Matella, the UC system’s associate vice president of employee and labor relations, said in a news release Wednesday that the UAW’s action is a “blatant breach of the parties’ no-strike clauses” and will “continue to cause irreversible harm to the University” and lead to cancelled classes and delayed grades. “The breach of contract also endangers life-saving research in hundreds of laboratories across the University and will also cause the University substantial monetary damages,” she said

The filing comes just as California’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) denied—for the second time—the university’s request to halt the strike, The Los Angeles Times reported. The labor board ruled Monday that the university had not adequately demonstrated the “irreparable harm” required for the board to approve an injunction.

“UC continues to shirk accountability for the violence it has caused and allowed against union members and the campus community,” Jaime, the UAW president, said. “Instead of going around PERB in search of a more favorable decision, UC should respect the law, focus on mediation, and resolve their serious unfair labor practices.”



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