Police Repression of UCLA SJP Encampment Led to the UAW4811 Strike Vote—So Why Isn’t 4811 Leadership Calling UCLA Out on Strike?

On April 30, two days before UAW4811’s Triennial elections—in which President Rafael Jaime would face a challenger running on a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for all, and a work-to-rule strike for Palestine platform—UCLA’s SJP encampment was violently attacked by Zionist agitators. Jaime was said to have stood alongside beleaguered encampment protestors and demanded answers to UCLA’s negligence. Jaime announced the next day to a crowd at UCLA that 4811 would be filing unfair labor practices charges against the UC for failing to protect workers’ right to free speech. That same night, LAPD violently swept the encampment. Jaime and his “Union MADE” Caucus (previously OSWP, affiliated with the UAW Administration Caucus) then called for a strike authorization vote, effectively opening the door for the union to strike in support of divestment demands.

Three weeks and an overwhelming “yes” vote later, the re-elected leadership continues to publicize the police brutality that occurred at UCLA, UCSD, and UCI on the official 4811 website and social media, but is yet to call a strike anywhere but UCSC. Meanwhile, they declined to offer a timeline or criteria for assessing strike readiness, and have barred rank-and-file members from attending Executive Board meetings to discuss the strike.

Since October 2023, local union chapters at UCLA, UCD, UCB, UCSC, and UCSB have passed numerous BDS resolutions and resolutions to commit to bargaining over BDS. Yet, Jaime and the leadership refused to disseminate this information to the membership; 4811 and Region 6 even endorsed the California Senate candidacy of Katie Porter, who repeatedly voted to send more money to Israel. Now, diverting attention from their weak position on Palestine and the perceived unwillingness to strike, the leadership claims that Science, Engineering, Technology and Math (STEM) workers in 4811, which make up the majority of the current workforce during the summer break, are ambivalent about the strike.

This is false. Not only is the strike action widely and vocally supported in our locals, as evidenced by the strike authorization vote, many STEM workers have joined hand-in-hand with students defending the encampments, protested the US-funded genocide, and were themselves violently attacked by the police. Consider that the call to solidarity with Palestine reflects US public opinion, of which 52 percent of registered voters support an end to US military aid to Israel and 77 percent of Democrats are pro-ceasefire. By deriding our professions, workplaces, and ourselves as regressive, the 4811 leadership is using a trite stereotype as a wedge to divide us from our fellow workers and union siblings. Instead, they should be leveraging the power of STEM workers in the strike.

The urgency to end the US-funded genocide notwithstanding, the future of the labor movement will depend on a clear STEM organizing strategy. The US economy is becoming more and more intertwined with high technology, and universities like UC are rapidly expanding their STEM research operations. The composition of higher ed labor will thus be increasingly STEM-heavy, bolstered by the Department of Defense, the weapons manufacturers, and other industries profiting from developing harmful technologies. It will take a powerful labor movement consisting of a large number of militant STEM workers to disrupt the war machine and protect the rights and safety of all workers and communities.

Concretely at this current moment, it is time to implement the try-and-tested research strike strategy around work-to-rule, which allows STEM workers to withhold labor in the long run. We need to expand the strike to include as many people and as much labor-time as possible to achieve maximum leverage, as well as ensuring that striking workers are protected from retaliation. All of this requires decisive action from the union leadership, which has thus far not gone beyond publicizing slogans, wasting mobilizing energies, while blaming STEM workers for its own inaction.

We, STEM workers of UAW4811, insist that Rafael Jaime and the UAW4811 leadership comply with the popular mandate, seize this historical moment, and immediately call all UC campuses on strike for Palestine.

SftP Canada in solidarity with campus encampments

Science for the People (SftP) Canada stands with student-led encampments for Gaza that have arisen across Turtle Island (North America) and around the world. We condemn the militarization of campuses and the accompanying police violence against protesters, the defamation of student organizers by university administrators and politicians, and the violent attacks on students by Zionist vigilante groups.

Students with a passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are refusing to work in the service of occupation, apartheid, and genocide. Futures of AI are experimentally tested in occupied Palestine; legacies of racial science live on in eugenicist anti-Palestinian slurs; technological research assumes the inevitability of capitalist domination of the globe. But a generation of students dreams of an anti-imperialist science. We owe them the work of dismantling the histories that link militarism, scientific progress, racial science, and settler colonialism. We must reimagine STEM for liberation.

Our universities all express their commitment to “reconciliation” with the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. Yet, these same universities not only suppress their role in the genocide of the Indigenous inhabitants of the lands upon which they are built, but, through their financial and academic support of the Zionist occupation, are also actively complicit in the ethnic cleansing of the Indigenous Palestinian people. The struggle for Palestine is entwined with the struggle for the liberation of the Indigenous nations of Turtle Island.

Universities in North America have a responsibility to stand in solidarity with their peers in Gaza and cut their ties to illegal occupation, apartheid, and genocide. Since 2004, a coalition of Palestinian civil society groups and unions, including the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, has been calling for a cultural and academic boycott of Israel, and it is long past time for higher education institutions in North America to heed that call.

We unite in support of students’ demands on universities:

  • to disclose investments in Israel’s ongoing violations of international law
  • to divest from companies and institutions complicit in the occupation, apartheid, and genocide of Palestinians
  • to remove police from university campuses
  • to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and an end to the occupation and genocide in Palestine
  • to endorse academic boycotts of Israeli universities, including study abroad programs, fellowships, seminars, and research collaborations. 

Most importantly, SftP Canada unites with the call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and an end to the occupation and genocide in Palestine.

UCSC Physicists Reject UC Complicity with Genocide of Palestine

In the past 75 years, the colonization and occupation of Palestine has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians. Before October 7th, 217 Palestinians had already been killed in the year 2023 alone.[1] Additionally, Gaza has been under a complete blockade -by land, sea and air- for the past 16 years by the Israeli military.[2] This violence has reached a new level of depravity in the last five months. There have been well over 30,000 Palestinian deaths since October 7th; 92% of these deaths are civilians, with nearly half of these civilians being children.[3] Over 50% of all buildings in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed, including hospitals, schools, mosques, churches and essential infrastructure for human existence, such as electricity and water.[4,5] In the West Bank, outside of Gaza, an additional 413 people have been killed since October 7th, 107 of whom were children. Countless more have been injured or detained indefinitely, often without charge.[6] Furthermore, 853 West Bank citizens have been made homeless by demolitions. As we were writing this document, Israel approved 3476 more houses for illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.[7] As this unspeakable violence continues to claim more Palestinian life every hour, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions has called “on [their] counterparts internationally and all people of conscience to end all forms of complicity with Israel’s crimes – most urgently halting the arms trade with Israel, as well as all funding and military research,” further emphasizing that “this urgent, genocidal situation can only be prevented by a mass increase of global solidarity with the people of Palestine and that can restrain the Israeli war machine.”[8] 

We, the academic workers of the UC Santa Cruz Physics Department, commit to honoring this request of solidarity by:

  1. Withholding academic labor benefiting militarism.
  2. Refusing research collaboration with federal military institutions as well as private arms and defense companies.
  3. Calling upon faculty and PIs in our department to disclose funding sources, resist suppression of political speech, and support their students in divesting their labor in the pursuit of ethical research.

The United States is Israel’s foremost benefactor. It has provided a cumulative $158 billion (non-inflation adjusted) in bilateral aid to Israel, 86% of which finances a sixth of the Israeli military budget, providing the military infrastructure used to carry out this genocide.[9] The University of California received $295 million in funding from the Department of Defense in 2022 alone, with UCSC receiving $10.5 million dollars to support research to make violence on this scale possible and efficient for the perpetrators.[10,11]

Additionally, demilitarization is a climate crisis necessity. The United States military produces more emissions than entire industrialized countries.[12] There is no teaching or learning on an uninhabitable planet.

For these reasons, demilitarizing our department and school is an ethical priority for graduate researchers and the faculty alike. Beyond our own department and in solidarity with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, we call on University of California graduate researchers and faculty to:

  • At minimum, disclose all sources of funding that support your research and students. Support students who wish to divest their intellectual labor in pursuit of “ethical science.”
  • Fight to withhold your research and patents from military applications. Campaign your institutions to reclaim ownership of your intellectual property and its applications.
  • Disclose and critically consider collaborations with any Israeli companies, NGOs and academic institutions that have shown themselves to be complicit in the genocide.  Support of the military action, economic strangling, and colonization of Palestine, even without active contribution, are some examples of such complicity.
  • Make your anti-genocide position clear to Israeli collaborators, share information on the actions of the military and human rights violations, and open discourse on what can be done from within an Israeli university to take action. Academic institutions have long been bastions of free speech and revolutionary thought, and so have acted as natural homes for the fight against oppression and tyranny. Encourage the condemnation of the Palestinian genocide by Israeli citizens, especially respected public figures like professors.
  • Critically evaluate the appeal of your work to military applications. For example, plenty of astrophysics of star formation and evolution, as well as fusion energy research informs nuclear weapons testing and development.[13] Lasers are integral to guided munitions as well as plenty of other military purposes. As the ones performing this research we have a unique responsibility in understanding the possible consequences of our work and advocating for our work to not be used to these ends.
  • Spread these actions beyond our department and into your own.

In solidarity,











As faculty in the physics department we commit to supporting our graduate students and postdocs in their goals as outlined above: