Sat, Jun

Political Strike By Thousands Of Workers And Students Rocks The University Of California System To Defend Freedom Of Expression


CAMPUS UNREST - The International Association of Machinists Local 1484 in Wilmington joined the June 5, 750-person UAW demonstration at UCLA in an act of labor solidarity. The rally and march, addressed by faculty and students, is part of the expanding state-wide UC system political strike against the administration's attacks on free speech, violation of the rights of teachers and students, and allowing right-wing thugs to attack a peaceful campus encampment for 3 hours on April 30.

On May 2, following the assault by thugs on the pro-Palestine students and faculty with fireworks, clubs and tear gas, the UCLA administration organized the arrest of two hundred students and teachers, and 43 more the following day (Daily Bruin, 6.3; pressing charges that could affect people's employment and ability to graduate. It is an ongoing strike on Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) sanctioned by the CA AFL-CIO. The rightist Zionist assault lasted hours, with only one arrest to date. 

Darnell Hunt, Executive vice chancellor and provost invited eleven faculty to a discussion. They declined, and responded in the campus paper, the Daily Bruin Op-ed entitled “We decline invitation to discuss recent campus events.” 

In that piece they reject the universities hiring of several private security firms and six law enforcement agencies to surveil the campus community.  They add “These actions created an atmosphere of fear…they inhibited open discourse, collective organizing and press access creating a chilling effect on free speech and association rights on campus”. (DB 6.3)  

The faculty refused to participate in a back channel meeting without students or union members. “This runs counter to the very principles of openness and disclosure that are central to the student demands, faculty governance and democracy. (DB 6.3) 

An Unfair Labor Practices charge was levelled against UCLA by UAW 4811 and UC- American Federation of Teachers representing more than 55,000 academic workers at UC. 

The rally and march thru campus included other unions: Roofers Local 36, AFSCME, IATSE, IAM, UTLA. 

Also joining was the Wilmington based LA Hands Off Cuba committee which  distributed hundreds of brochures for the June 23 report-back meeting at the Machinists union hall (4pm 1261 Avalon Blvd., Wilmington, CA) of the "Worker and Youth Activists" delegation that participated in the CTC Pasantia Internship and May Day in Cuba. They invited UAW strikers to come give an update on how people can support their widespread strike.

The strikers have made clear their support for the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and made clear distinction between being an antizionist and opposing Israeli genocide and touting anti-Semitism which it is not.

Regardless of one's position on Palestine, the flagrant violation of freedom of expression and this expanding political strike is a crucial issue before the entire union movement and all organizations. If free speech can be denied to these peaceful campus protests, it will be expanded to deny all of us constitutional rights. 

Unionists participating in the activities cheered on the solidarity from other UC campuses and USC and believed that the Los Angeles Federation of Labor of 300 local unions with 800,000 members should actively support their rolling strike, not just passing a minimal resolution.

(Mark Friedman, Labor  news reporter, veteran member International Association of Machinists.)