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UC Secures Orange County Court Intervention Against UAW 4811 Academic Workers’ Strike

PERB Files Motion Asserting the Court is Not the Appropriate Venue for Order

Following the University of California’s unsuccessful attempts to secure an injunction from the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), the UC took the step of approaching an Orange County Superior Court in a bid to halt the UAW 4811 Academic Worker’s strike. 

The Judge in Orange County issued a temporary restraining order against the UAW strike after UC filed a lawsuit and requested injunctive relief on Tuesday, June 4, against UAW for breach of contract. The current contract between the two parties has a no-strike clause. UAW 4811 called a strike vote among its workers and has gradually implemented a strike that now includes workers at six university campuses. 

By doing so, UC is attempting to circumvent the state-mandated process to resolve issues between UC and union workers. The strike was called after UAW 4811 filed several unfair labor practice (ULP) violations stemming from the actions of the UCLA administration after the attack on the Palestine Solidarity Encampment and the violent removal of the camp the next day and similar actions at the University of California at Irvine. 

PERB filed its own motion in relation to this case but was told by the Orange County judge that no judgment on its motion would be made now. The motion states that PERB is the appropriate authority on questions of public sector labor law. This temporary restraining order does not end the strike, and as of June 7, UAW 4811’s social media accounts have stated that five other campuses are ready to strike if UC does not work to resolve the ULPs. 

Rafael Jaime, president of UAW 4811, said, via an emailed press release, “UC academic workers are facing down an attack on our whole movement. PERB, the regulatory body with the expertise to rule on labor law, has twice found no grounds to halt our strike. I want to make clear that this struggle is far from over. In the courtroom, the law is on our side, and we’re prepared to keep defending our rights — and outside, 48,000 workers are ready for a long fight.”

Melissa Matella, associate vice president for Systemwide Labor Relations, stated in an emailed press release, which claimed that the restraining order would halt the strike, “We are extremely grateful for a pause in this strike so our students can complete their academic studies. The strike would have caused irreversible setbacks to students’ academic achievements and may have stalled critical research projects in the final quarter.”

Veena Dubal, a Professor of Law at the University of California Irvine, said in a post on Twitter, “It is pretty darn brazen of UC to go to Superior Ct after PERB TWICE denied them. UC’s actions are not unlike what Starbucks and Amazon are doing in the private sector: attempting to undermine the bodies governing labor law.”

According to the press release from UAW 4811, “UC has since then made unilateral and dramatic changes to long-standing policies on protest and use of force, then used these changed policies to arrest and discipline hundreds of students and academic workers across the state.”

Noah Zatz, a UCLA law professor, tweeted, “This decision is outrageous. Labor injunctions from rogue courts have an ignoble history. That’s why California passed a law specifically limiting orders like this. The judge seemingly defied the legislature, ignored precedent, and spurned PERB, the body with authority over these questions.”

Mattella added, “From the beginning, we have stated that this strike was illegal and a violation of our contracts’ mutually agreed-upon no-strike clauses. We respect the advocacy and progressive action towards issues that matter to our community and our community’s right to engage in lawful free speech activities—activities that continue to occur across the system. However, UAW’s strike is unrelated to employment terms, violates the parties’ agreements, and runs contrary to established labor principles.”

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