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UC Santa Cruz workers strike in solidarity with pro-Palestinian protesters

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

More than 1,000 academic workers and students at UC Santa Cruz went on strike Monday morning in solidarity with pro-Palestinian protesters.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting) Stand-up strike, stand-up strike (ph).

MARTÍNEZ: The strike was organized by a union representing about 48,000 academic researchers and teachers across the state. Now, for more on this, we're joined by P.K. Hattis of the Santa Cruz Sentinel. So P.K., the strike is taking place in Santa Cruz, but it's put on by a union that represents workers across the state of California, right?

P K HATTIS: That's right. So the workers are part of UAW 4811, which represents academic workers and researchers on all the UC campuses across the state, but just about 2,400 at UC Santa Cruz specifically. And so the union announced the strike on Friday, that its members had voted to authorize what they call a stand-up strike in response to claims of unfair labor practices. And specifically, a stand-up strike allows individual campuses to walk out at select locations rather than the union picketing as a whole. And so they voted to strike in response to what one graduate researcher told me was appalling violence and intimidation against members of our academic community. And so the union has filed charges of unsafe labor practices against the UC system for the arrests and removal of their members from protest encampments at UC San Diego, UC Irvine, and probably most notably at UCLA.

MARTÍNEZ: OK, so what does the union want from the UC system?

HATTIS: So the union is asking the UC system to essentially remedy the unfair labor practices it says are impacting its working conditions. So this includes re-establishing a safe work environment, protecting the right to protest, as well as the right to freedom of speech. And one union leader at Santa Cruz told me they're also asking for amnesty for their members within the legal system and the University of California system, and that's for their members involved at the encampments and who were arrested during these incidents.

MARTÍNEZ: OK. And has the UC system responded?

HATTIS: Right. So the UC system has responded in turn, and they have filed an unfair labor practice charge of their own against the UAW, and that was filed last Friday, you know, in very quick succession. And they're saying the union's actions violate a no-strike provision in its collective bargaining agreements.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, I know that there has been a pro-Palestinian encampment at UC Santa Cruz for a while now, actually. Are they connected somehow to this strike, if at all?

HATTIS: So the encampment is similar to other encampments at other campuses across the country, and it went out and created this encampment in early May. So they are in solidarity with the union, as I said, but they have different tactics. Both certainly agree with each other, though, in terms of standing in solidarity with the people of Gaza, and they vehemently oppose the war in Gaza.

MARTÍNEZ: Any idea how long this strike might go on?

HATTIS: So the union authorized its members to strike until June 30. Other campuses could join in the next week, but so far it's just UC Santa Cruz participating, and the university has finals in the first few weeks of June. And meanwhile, the encampment folks said again yesterday that they were, you know, planning to stay where they were for the long haul, just across the street from where the strike was happening.

MARTÍNEZ: P.K. Hattis is a reporter with the Santa Cruz Sentinel. P.K., thanks.

HATTIS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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