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University of California Union to Vote on Strike Over Gaza Protest Crackdown

The University of California’s largest academic workers union, representing more than 48,000 graduate students, is planning a strike authorization vote in response to the university’s handling of the Gaza protests. The vote could take place as early as next week, marking a significant escalation in the ongoing dispute between the university and its faculty.

United Auto Workers (UAW) branch 4811, which recently merged two UAW branches, 2865 and 5810, has announced a strike vote. The union criticized the university’s use of force to suppress peaceful protests, calling it an “attack on free speech and the right to demand change.”

Rafael Jaime, co-president of UAW 4811 and a graduate worker at UCLA, said, “We have been calling on the University of California to de-escalate and negotiate with the protesters over their very urgent and moral concerns and it failed to do that and it failed to protect students and workers and allowed this violence to occur.”

The union also plans to file an unfair labor practices complaint against the University of California for using the Los Angeles Police Department against protesters and for unilaterally changing policies in response to protests without bargaining.

In a related development, Brown University’s Graduate Labor Organization has filed several unfair labor practice charges against the university in connection with the pro-Palestinian protests and the university’s responses to them. The charges allege that Brown unilaterally changed protest policies without bargaining and threatened retaliation against union members for participating in pro-Palestinian campus protests.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, police are seeking the public’s help in identifying five men who robbed a CTA Red Line passenger at knifepoint last month. The suspects are believed to be aged between 18 and 30. No further information was provided.

In another incident, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is investigating an incident in which an officer fired a gun inside Columbia University. The incident occurred amid a wave of protests and counter-protests on campus.

The UAW, with 400,000 active members and over 500,000 retirees, is the largest US union to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. UAW president Shawn Fain recently reaffirmed the union’s position, stating, “Our union has been calling for a ceasefire for six months. This war is wrong and this response against students and academic workers, many of them UAW members, is wrong.”

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