Anti-Israel Protests Set To Proceed Into Summer Break as California Unions Pick Up the Students’ Mantle

Academic employees at one University of California campus are striking over the university’s response to earlier protests and its policies regarding Israel.

Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP
A woman is arrested at a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Texas, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at Austin. Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP

The protest movement that dominated college campuses through the spring semester appears to be poised to push on into the summer, as university staff gear up to strike over universities’ policies on Israel and Gaza and protests spread despite the semester drawing to a close.

In California, staff in the university of California system are organizing a walkout over its crackdown on protesters earlier this year. United Auto Workers Local 4811, which represents some 48,000 UC employees, is citing the system’s “summoning the police to forcibly eject and arrest UAW Local 4811 members in retaliation for those employees engaging in peaceful protest activity demanding work-place related changes.”

The UAW represents about 100,000 academic employees around the country, most recently organizing academic employees at New York University.

So far, only academic employees that research, teach, and grade at the University of California, Santa Cruz have walked on strike. Inside Higher Ed reports that the union has authorized the employees to strike through June 30, which overlaps with the end of the semester there.

The UC system has denounced the strike as “illegal” and says it violates a clause of the system’s contract with the UAW that bars members from striking based on “issues that have no bearing on employment at UC.

“We are eager to see a quick and just resolution to this matter so that our students, faculty and staff can end this academic quarter without further disrupting their education and progress towards degree completion,” the assistant vice president for systemwide labor relations, Missy Matella, said in a statement.

The UAW has in turn said in an unfair labor practices complaint that the university system’s suspension of protesters does have bearing on employment at UC, as does the university’s request for “forceful police intervention against peaceful employee protesters at UCLA.”

The union also says that the UC system “shamefully allowed and condoned a violent attack against the same peaceful protesters by a large mob of anti-Palestinian attackers, waiting over two hours after the attack began before requesting police intervention.”

Likewise, demonstrators at Philadelphia have set up a protest encampment at Clark Park at Southwest Philadelphia, according to ABC 6, the first encampment on public property there.

The encampment cropped up at about the same time student protesters at Drexel had their encampment disbanded without incident, according to police.

“Fortunately, it looks like we’re going to be able to complete this operation without having to make any arrests, any use of force, anything of that nature,” a Philadelphia police sergeant, Eric Gripp, said. “The campers picked up their belongings for the most part and left by their own free will.”

Protesters at universities like Georgetown and Columbia have also indicated that they are dedicated to maintaining the pressure on university administrators throughout the summer.

“No one plans on leaving this summer,” a Georgetown protester, Selina Al-Shihabi, told the Washington Post. “That is very clear among the people with us today, and it’s something we meet about, something we chant in our slogans.”

It’s also clear that protests will follow prominent administration officials throughout the summer, with one group protesting throughout Memorial Day weekend at Wilmington, Delaware, with the aim of denying President Biden a peaceful vacation.

The summer of protest is expected to culminate in August, when Democrats hold their national convention at Chicago. While protests are expected at the convention, the “uncommitted” movement won delegates in state primaries in multiple states, meaning there may even be protesters acting as delegates inside the convention.


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