48,000 California Student Workers Vote to Strike Due to Protest Crackdowns

AP Photo/Ethan Swope

If you want to see what happens when the inmates are running the asylum, just wait until the 48,000 graduate student teaching assistants, researchers, and other student workers go on strike at the 17 University of California schools.


The kids voted to authorize their union, United Auto Workers 4811, to strike when they deemed it appropriate. It shouldn't be too long given the crackdowns are continuing on campus. Police removed a pro-Palestinian camp at the University of California-Irvine Wednesday evening.

So why go on strike?

Rafael Jaime, the union’s co-president and a PhD candidate at UCLA, said the goal would be to “maximize chaos and confusion” at the schools that sent in the police to clear the pro-Palestine camps.

“Our members have been beaten, concussed, pepper sprayed, both by counter-protesters and by police forces. As a union, it is our responsibility to stand beside them,” the union said in a statement. “In order to de-escalate the situation, UC must substantively engage with the concerns raised by the protesters — which focus on UC’s investments in companies and industries profiting off of the suffering in Gaza.”

There's only one problem for the student union members: it's illegal for them to strike. The office of the president sent a letter to graduate student workers informing them that there would be severe consequences if they went on strike.

“The University’s position is that the Union’s strike is unlawful, and as a result, a work stoppage is not protected strike activity. This means that participating in the strike does not change, excuse, or modify, an employee’s normal work duties or expectations. And, unlike a protected strike, you could be subject to corrective action for failing to perform your duties,” the unsigned letter from the office of the president said.


Los Angeles Times:

The academic worker strike would be modeled after last year’s “stand up” strikes against Ford, Stellantis and General Motors and similar to recent strikes at Southern California hotels. The walkouts would not target all campuses at once, Jaime said, but one by one based on how receptive administrations are to pro-Palestinian activists.

UC Riverside and UC Berkeley have reached agreements with protesters to end encampments and explore divestment from weapons companies. Leaders at those universities have rejected calls to target Israel specifically or for academic boycotts against exchange programs and partnerships with Israeli universities.

While some Jewish students have supported pro-Palestinian protests, national Jewish groups have criticized the divestment push, saying it is antisemitic because it aims to delegitimize the only predominantly Jewish nation.

Another small problem for the student unionists: they already have a contract.

The strike vote “is not about economics. It’s not about a raise or more benefits. It’s political,” said Jeff Schuhrke, a labor historian who teaches at SUNY.

Among their demands is amnesty for students and faculty members arrested during the unrest. We can assume that means any expulsions would be rescinded and student records expunged.


I think the writing is on the wall. Most of the schools that have had to deal with student unrest will obey the dictates of their masters and divest from Israeli companies. If keeping the peace means giving in, that's what they'll do.

The antisemites are winning due to ignorance and stupidity on the part of their contemporaries. 


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