Two thousand student workers at the University of California Santa Cruz stopped work May 20 in the first of a series of compounding strikes protesting the university’s response to pro-Palestinian protests. The university in turn has filed charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board accusing the union of violating the no-strike clause of its contract and is asking for an injunction to block the strike.

The United Auto Workers (UAW), represents 48,000 graduate student teaching assistants, researchers and other academic workers at University of California’s 10 campuses. 79% of voting members across the state authorized the union leadership to call for rolling “stand up” strikes – tactic used successfully in the UAW’s strike against the big three auto companies last year.

The strikes are based on charges the union has brought for unfair labor practices. The union complaint focuses on the arrests of pro-Palestinian graduate student protesters at UCLA and suspensions and other discipline at UC San Diego and UC Irvine. It accuses the universities of retaliating against student workers and unlawfully changing workplace policies to suppress pro-Palestinian speech.

Graduate workers at UCLA, the University of Southern California, the University of California at San Diego, Brown University and Harvard University have filed similar unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over how their university administrations unilaterally changed policies and responded to Gaza protests.

For a video featuring UAW members explaining the strike: