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Striking grad workers block roads, prompt UC Santa Cruz to go online

Union leaders want UC to drop charges against pro-Palestinian protesters

The University of California at Santa Cruz canceled in-person classes this week after students and staff blocked both roads on campus during a union strike, according to UCSC leaders.

Chancellor Cynthia Larive said in a news release the students and employees may face discipline for blocking the main entrance to campus “for a significant period of time” Monday.

Their action “hurts our most vulnerable community members, limiting access to those who receive medical care, childcare, and food on our campus and excluding those without the ability to walk or bike up the hill,” Larive said.

The university held classes online Tuesday and Wednesday – and later extended the closures through Friday – “in anticipation of additional disruption,” according to the news release.

Larive said the library is open, but most academic buildings would remain locked for the remainder of the week.

Last week, the University of California graduate students union United Auto Workers Local 4811 voted to strike, in part, due to their opposition to administrators’ responses to pro-Palestinian protesters in recent weeks, The College Fix reported.

So far, the strike has been limited to UC Santa Cruz, but union workers also participated in a pro-Palestinian protest at UC Los Angeles this week that resulted in police action.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

More than two dozen officers in riot gear descended on UCLA Thursday afternoon, facing off with pro-Palestinian protesters who had erected a new encampment on campus hours earlier.

The move came amid escalating tensions between pro-Palestinian students and their faculty allies and administrators on the Westwood campus. […]

What started as a small group of protesters setting up a few tents on the Kerckhoff patio Thursday morning had grown to several hundred supporters, including academic union members, outside the encampment by the afternoon. Police pushed back the crowd, which eventually retreated to another area of campus near Murphy Hall, and tore down the encampment and wood pallets surrounding it.

Union workers plan to expand the strike to UCLA and UC Davis on Tuesday, according to an earlier LA Times report.

Rafael Jaime, president of UAW 4811 and a graduate student worker at UCLA, said in a news release union members want UC to grant amnesty to workers who are facing criminal charges or other discipline for participating in pro-Palestinian protests.

“UC can resolve their unfair labor practices at any time …” Jaime said in the release, according to the Daily Bruin. “Instead, UC has continued to break the law, and has issued interim suspensions to members of our union wrongfully arrested last week at UC Irvine.”

Ahead of the strike, Jaime told the newspaper that the union was planning to “maximize chaos and confusion” on campuses.

According to the LA Times, “The academic workers contend that their free speech rights were violated when system leaders called on police to forcibly remove pro-Palestinian encampments at several campuses and activists at UCLA were not protected from an attack by pro-Israel supporters for hours.”

The union also wants UC to divest from “weapons manufacturers, military contractors, and companies profiting from Israel’s war on Gaza,” according to the report.

Meanwhile, the university system believes the strike is illegal, according to a letter it sent last week to union members.

“And, unlike a protected strike, you could be subject to corrective action for failing to perform your duties,” the letter stated, according to the report.

MORE: Student workers union to ‘maximize chaos’ at UC campuses after pro-Palestinian protest crackdown


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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.