Judge orders temporary halt to UC academic workers’ strike over war in Gaza

Jun 7, 2024, 5:39 PM

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Thousands of academic workers on strike at the University of California were ordered by a state judge Friday to temporarily cease their weekslong strike over the war in Gaza.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Randall J. Sherman issued the emergency restraining order after UC lawyers argued that the ongoing strike would cause irreversible harm as students are nearing finals.

The university system sued United Auto Workers Local 4811 on Tuesday even though both sides have competing unfair practice labor claims pending before the California Public Employment Relations Board, which declined twice to issue an emergency injunction.

The union, which represents 48,000 graduate students who work as teaching assistants, tutors, researchers and other academic employees on the 10-campus UC system, started its strike May 20 in Santa Cruz. The strike has since expanded to UC campuses in Davis, Los Angeles, Irvine, Santa Barbara and San Diego.

Melissa Matella, associate vice president for labor relations, expressed gratitude for the order, saying in a statement that the ongoing strike would have set back students’ learning and possibly stalled critical research projects. Officials say the strike is not related to employment terms and violates the union’s contract.

But the union says it is protesting the treatment of its members, some of whom were arrested and forcibly ejected by police in demonstrations calling for an end to the war in Gaza.

Rebecca Gross, a UC Santa Cruz graduate student and union leader, said Friday they are surveying rank-and-file workers on how to proceed.

“The struggle is not over,” she said. “It really hasn’t been confirmed yet … that what we’re doing here is illegal in any way.”

On May 1, police in riot gear ordered the dispersal of more than a thousand people gathered on campus to support Palestine, and warned that those who refused to leave would face arrest. The night before, police had waited to intervene as counter-protesters attacked the pro-Palestinian encampment, causing injuries.

Pro-Palestinian protests have roiled campuses across the U.S. and in Europe as students demand their universities stop doing business with Israel or companies that support its war efforts.

Police arrested protesters at Stanford University after they occupied the office of the school president for several hours Wednesday. Officials said demonstrators caused extensive vandalism inside and outside the building.

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Judge orders temporary halt to UC academic workers’ strike over war in Gaza