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Striking workers at UCLA walk off jobs, demand end to political repression

By Hannah Keith

UCLA workers strike after crackdown on pro-Palestine activism.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Los Angeles CA – On Tuesday, May 28, hundreds of workers and students at the University of California Los Angeles walked off the job in response to the university’s brutal crackdown on pro-Palestine encampments earlier this month.

The striking workers are graduate students and academic researchers represented by the United Auto Workers union local 4811 (UAW) which represents 50,000 workers across the UC school system. The UAW declared the university’s response to the protest an unfair labor practice and will be on strike until at least June 30 or later if the strike is extended.

The walkouts began at 9 a.m. and culminated in a rally at noon at the Bruin Bear statue, where students and workers demanded the university divest its investments from Israel and respect their free speech. After the rally the protesters marched to Royce Hall where they gathered on the grass to learn more about the strike.

According to one union activist, Ethan Friedland, “The university bringing these violent cops onto our campus is really just a symptom of a larger issue which is this university doesn’t care about its students or its workers; it cares about making money and investing money into arms, genocide, into death and it will use violent force to repress any attempt to change that.”

When asked about the strike, Friedland added, “The school has signaled that they want to crack down on any student organizing, any dissent and free speech, of course they want to crack down on labor.”

Earlier this month, UCLA, along with the University of Southern California and dozens of other college campuses across the country, erupted in protest as students constructed encampments to try and force their universities to divest from Israel. The encampment at UCLA was violently attacked by Zionist counter-protesters. In response to the violence, the police swept through the encampment and brutalized the protesters, beating and arresting hundreds in the process.

UAW members and students both are united in their demand that their universities divest from Israel and stop funding the genocide in Palestine and that campuses respect their right to free speech and will keep fighting until they’ve won.

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