UCLA Academic Workers Strike Over Handling of Pro-Palestine Protests

Students’ rights and safety at UCLA
Students’ rights and safety at UCLA. Credit | REUTERS

United States – Continued reactions to last month’s mob attack on pro-Palestinian activists at the University of California, Los Angeles, erupted on Tuesday when academic workers held a strike arguing against UCLA’s handling of violence.

Strike at UCLA and Across UC System

Strike powerless academic researchers, teaching assistants, and scholars at the University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA. They said they were protesting against what they deemed unfair labor practices by the university in relation to pro-Palestine protests in the last weeks, as reported by Reuters.

Many other university workers across the UC system joined the protest strike, which started at UC Santa Cruz near San Francisco on May 20 and at UC Davis near Sacramento.

The strikers are calling for the release of detained graduate students and other academicians who got arrested or demoted for taking part in the protests the unions say were non-violent until counter-protesters and ‘agents provocateurs’ intervened.

The state Public Employee Relation Board demanded that the University of California and the strikers engage in a mediated bargaining process. An official of the striking workers said the two sides only met on Sunday.

Union Involvement and Support

It was carried out by the United Auto Workers Union Local 4811, which has a total of 48,000 non-tenured academic staff members across 10 University of California campuses and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The UAW local represents academic workers at three UC campuses: UCLA, with 6,400 members; Davis, with 5,700 members; and Santa Cruz, with approximately 2,000 members. The union source reported that starting from Monday, thousands have refused to undertake any work. Many of them came to attend the march and midday rally held at the University of California, Los Angeles, on Tuesday.

It increases the length of the strike, becoming the first protest supported by the union to join the recent series of student protests in dozens of U. S. campuses against Israel’s military actions in the Gaza Strip.

Union leaders noted that one of the key reasons that the strike was called was the apprehension of 210 people, including campus-employed graduate students who were involved in the Palestinian solidarity protest camp at UCLA, which was dispersed by the police on the 2nd of May.

Some 24 hours earlier, on the night of April 30, May 1, the attackers wearing masks and armed with sticks and clubs attacked an encampment and people in it; the fight there lasted at least three hours before the police intervened.

The university has since transferred the head of the campus police department and launched an inquiry into the police’s response to the violence.

Three weeks after a massive brawl that injured more than 100 students, campus police made their first and, to date, only arrest of a man who was caught on video assaulting students with a wooden pole.

National Attention and Similar Incidents

In a similar incident on Tuesday in Detroit, Wayne State University advised its staff members to work from home and compelled students to stop attending physical classes after a pro-Palestinian protest camp set up on the campus, as reported by Reuters.

Yet Democrat Rashida Tlaib, a member of the U. S. House of Representatives from Michigan of Palestinian origin, also demonstrated on Monday and Tuesday.