UCLA academic workers union strikes after response to encampments

Academic workers at UCLA are on strike Tuesday to protest the University of California System’s response to pro-Palestinian encampments on campus.

The protests, created in response to Israel’s actions in Gaza in the months following Hamas’ Oct. 7, 2023, attack, roiled campuses nationwide and led to violence in some cases, including at UCLA.

While some officials have faced negative repercussions, including the UCLA police chief, the union representing academic workers said more wrongdoing has not been addressed, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Starting at UC Santa Cruz last week, strikes organized by United Auto Workers Local 4811, which the Times notes “represents 48,000 graduate student teaching assistants, tutors, researchers and others,” have affected UC campuses right as these workers are needed most for finals and year-end projects.

UCLA’s night of violence in photos

Jon Baird of KNX News said strikers have been a visible presence on campus, including by blocking access to a parking garage for visitors, and UCLA isn’t alone.

UC Davis workers are also on strike, and as many as three other campuses could join the strike by Friday.

“The academic workers contend that their free speech rights were violated when university leaders called on police to forcibly remove pro-Palestinian encampments at several campuses and activists at UCLA were not protected from an attack on the camp by counterprotesters for hours,” the Times reports. “Police later dismantled the UCLA encampment, making about 200 arrests, including some members of the striking union.”

Police raid on UCLA encampment in photos

UC officials have argued the strikes are illegal, though the state labor board rejected its request.

In the meantime, striking workers are expressing their support for the Palestinian people and hoping these strikes aid their cause.

“I think the union is in a position to really just lift up this issue on the national stage and challenge sort of mainstream discourse and status quo,” Gene McAdoo, a doctoral student at UCLA, told the Times.

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