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UC system sues UAW over strike in sympathy with pro-Palestine protests

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(The Center Square) – The University of California system filed a lawsuit against the 48,000 member union striking at six of its campuses in response to administrations’ actions over pro-Palestine protests.

The lawsuit alleges the United Auto Workers, which represents graduate students and researchers in the UC system — the third largest employer in California — is in breach of contract. UC says the UAW is only authorized to strike for issues relating to employment and labor, not political and social issues. UAW alleges campus responses to protests, including charges against some protestors, constitute unfair labor practices.

The UC strike began on May 20 at UC Santa Cruz, before spreading to UCLA and UC Davis. On Wednesday, the strike expanded to UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine, meaning more than half the 10-campus system’s UAW workers are on strike.

“For the last month, UC has used and condoned violence against workers and students peacefully protesting on campus for peace and freedom in Palestine,” said UAW Local 4811 president Rafael Jaime in a statement. ”We are united in our demand that UC addresses these serious ULPs, beginning with dropping all criminal and conduct charges that have been thrown at our members because they spoke out against injustice.”

UC tried but failed to get California’s Public Employment Relations Board to provide injunctive relief against the strike. UC’s next step is a lawsuit to get a state court to end the strike.

“Now that UC has exhausted the PERB process for injunctive relief, UC will move to state court and is hopeful for quick and decisive action so that our students can end their quarter with their focus on academics,” said UC Associate Vice President for Systemwide Labor Relations Melissa Matella.”

In its lawsuit, UC cites the union’s blocking of hospital and childcare centers, storming and barricading of buildings, and preventing access to streets, parking lots and loading docks as substantially impacting campus and even public health operations.