Student academic workers file 2 more unfair labor practice charges against UC

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Nearly two weeks after a UC-wide strike, the UC student academic workers union has filed two unfair labor practice charges against the university with the state public employment relations board.

With these new charges to the California Public Employment Relations Board, the union has now filed a total of seven unfair labor practice charges in the past six months. The charges come in the wake of a two-day strike held April 2 and 3 in which 22 members of the UC Santa Cruz community were arrested at the campus.

In its recent charges submitted to the state public labor board Monday, United Auto Workers Local 2865 — a union that consists of more than 12,000 student academic employees including graduate student workers, readers and tutors — alleges that the university is continuing to enforce intimidation tactics. In particular, the union alleges that protests were filmed without appropriate justifications and that student workers were illegally asked if they are planning on striking — tactics they claim aim to suppress further organized union activities.

“Every time we’ve had a mass action, we’ve been met with the police, and it has gotten more aggressive each time,” said Munira Lokhandwala, the UC Berkeley unit chair for the union and graduate student in film and media studies. “We’re seeing escalation in attempt to intimidate us from acting collectively and demonstrating.”

As the charges are making their way to the UC lawyers, the union and the university are continuing efforts in contract negotiations, according to UC spokesperson Shelly Meron.

“Our feeling is that the best way to resolve this is through bargaining — not striking and picketing,” Meron said. “The union should focus more on the negotiation process.”

The union has stated before that it was striking against alleged intimidation practices, not the negotiations. Although the union has not called for a strike in response to these issues, they are certainly the kind of materials that could be used for future demonstrations, said Erik Green, a doctoral student in education at UC Santa Cruz.

During a bargaining meeting held at UCLA on Tuesday, the two parties came to a tentative agreement for the university to provide lactation stations and gender-neutral bathrooms for students throughout all UC campuses, Lokhandwala said.

Despite these steps toward a contract agreement, Green says he is only cautiously optimistic about the outlook, saying the university is proving themselves to be an unreliable partner in the process.

“We are coming to the table with an intention of compromise,” Green said. “They say they want to compromise, but they come out with empty proposals without much substance and are unwilling to talk about certain subjects.”

Contact Ivy Kim at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ivykim224.