UC academic workers union vows "long fight" after judge orders halt to strike-Xinhua

UC academic workers union vows "long fight" after judge orders halt to strike

Source: Xinhua| 2024-06-08 16:49:00|Editor:

LOS ANGELES, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Academic workers at the University of California (UC) on Friday voiced readiness for "a long fight" after a judge ordered their union to halt its strike over the university's handling of pro-Palestinian protests.

The strike by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 4811, which represents 48,000 academic workers across the UC system, has expanded to six of UC's 10 systemwide campuses.

An Orange County Superior Court judge in the U.S. state of California granted the temporary restraining order against the union, ordering academic workers to return to work until June 27 while final exams are taken.

The action comes after UC filed a lawsuit and requested injunctive relief Tuesday against UAW for breach of contract.

The first UC campus that stood up and withheld labor was UC Santa Cruz, where academic workers walked off the job on May 20. The walkout spread to UC Los Angeles and UC Davis on May 28, and further expanded to three more campuses, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine this week.

"Having twice failed to secure an injunction against the lawful strike from the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), the university today succeeded in their search for a more favorable outcome," said UAW Local 4811 in a statement, adding that this comes after PERB issued a thorough complaint against UC alleging serious unfair labor practices.

The union pointed out that the temporary restraining order does not mean that the strike has been ruled "illegal."

"The strike is in response to UC's serious unfair labor practices, which began on May 1 when the university allowed an angry mob to beat peaceful protesters at UCLA, calling in riot police the next night to arrest those protesters who remained," explained the union, noting that UC "has since then made unilateral and dramatic changes to long-standing policies on protest and use of force, then used these changed policies to arrest and discipline hundreds of students and academic workers across the state."

"UC academic workers are facing down an attack on our whole movement," said Rafael Jaime, president of UAW 4811 in the statement.

"PERB, the regulatory body with the expertise to rule on labor law, has twice found no grounds to halt our strike. I want to make clear that this struggle is far from over," he said, adding that the union is prepared to keep defending its rights.

UC officials applauded the judge's restraining order, saying it is "an important victory critical to support student success."

"We are extremely grateful for a pause in this strike so our students can complete their academic studies. The strike would have caused irreversible setbacks to students' academic achievements and may have stalled critical research projects in the final quarter," said Melissa Matella, associate vice president for Systemwide Labor Relations at UC, in a statement.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been spreading at colleges and universities across the United States amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Hundreds were arrested in crackdowns on pro-Palestinian protests and encampments on UC campuses across the state last month.