United Autoworkers Union strike authorisation vote this week!

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An action organised by UAW Labour for Palestine

The UAW (United Autoworkers Union) which represents over 48,000 graduate student workers in the University of California system, will hold a strike authorisation vote this week in response to the university management crack-down on students’ occupations in support of Palestinians in Gaza fighting against the Israeli genocide.

A statement from the UAW local 4811 branch said: ‘The use and sanction of violent force to curtail peaceful protest is an attack on free speech and the right to demand change, and the university must sit down with students, unions, and campus organisations to negotiate, rather than escalate.’
Earlier this year, the union voted by a margin of more than nine to one in favour of supporting a ceasefire, according to the announcement.
Graduate workers last went on strike in November 2022 over a new union contract; it was the largest strike in US higher education history.
They recently merged two UAW locals, 2865 and 5810, under the single UAW local 4811.
Rafael Jaime, co-president of UAW 4811 and a graduate worker at UCLA, said: ‘We have been calling on the University of California to de-escalate and negotiate with the protesters over their very urgent and moral concerns and it failed to do that and it failed to protect students and workers and allowed this violence to occur.
‘We’re holding a strike authorisation vote to hold the university accountable and demand the university respect the members’ right to protected speech and right to protest.’
He said the union also plans to file unfair labour practice charges against the University of California over the university’s use of the Los Angeles police department (LAPD) against protesters, and for changing policies unilaterally in response to the protests without bargaining.
He added: ‘This is the defining issue of our generation, and it’s really important for all, not just workers at the University of California, but across the entire nation, to speak up and to ensure every worker has the right to speak on this issue.
‘We believe all workers, all students, have a fundamental right to engage in protests and engage in free speech, and universities need to respect that right.’
The United Auto Workers union, with 400,000 active members and over 500,000 retirees, is the largest US union to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, which they did in December.
UAW president Shawn Fain recently reaffirmed the union’s position, he said: ‘Our union has been calling for a ceasefire for six months.
‘This war is wrong and this response against students and academic workers, many of them UAW members, is wrong.’
Graduate student workers are also calling on the National Labour Relations Board to weigh in on how universities have responded to pro-Palestinian protests, and whether those responses violate US labour laws and collective bargaining agreements.
The Graduate Labour Organisation at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island has filed several unfair labour practice charges against the university in regards to pro-Palestinian protests and the university’s responses to them.
Forty-one students at Brown were arrested, and charges remain, despite the pro-Palestinian encampment dispersing as part of negotiations that include a planned vote by the university’s highest governing body for October on divesting from companies affiliated with Israel.
The charges filed by the union allege that Brown unilaterally changed protest policies without bargaining, and made threats of retaliation toward union members for participating in pro-Palestine campus protests.
Michael Ziegler, political director of the Graduate Labour Organisation and graduate worker at Brown said: ‘It’s really about the university trying to leverage this fact that, as graduate workers, we do have student status, and kind of using that as a smokescreen for violating labour law.
‘This has been their playbook on a whole host of issues.’
Meanwhile, On 13th-17th May, workers at the Mercedes plant in Alabama, USA – the only Mercedes plant in the world without union representation – will for the first time vote for a union.
According to US legislation, it takes a majority of the workforce to vote in favour of an election for it to take place.
In a blatant show of disrespect for democracy and fundamental workers’ rights, the employer is engaging in heavy, scaremongering union busting to influence the upcoming vote.
Union busters are using ads implying that the establishment of a union will mean that the jobs will move out of state, urging workers to ‘think about the consequences’ of saying yes to a union.
On its website, MBUSI workers’ information committee claims to ‘educate employees about the radical and self-serving agenda of the UAW’.
‘The message projected is clear: We are one big family for now, but with a vote for the UAW, we won’t be,’ the employer said.
Atle Høie the General Secretary of IndustriALL an international union of which the UAW is an affiliate member said: ‘The family seems to be a big company argument against the union.
‘But workers should remember that the family the company is talking about is a patriarchal one where the father takes in all the money and gives as little as possible to his subjects.
‘The company knows that with a union they would have to bargain with a more powerful workforce on the distribution of the money earned.
‘Of course they don’t want a union, they want the money. This has nothing to do with family.
‘A family is a unit that cares for you and that sees to it that you have your fair share.
‘The company approach is deplorable and not in the interest of workers in any way.’
‘The vote in Alabama follows on the successful win at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga in April, when it became the first plant in the US South to unionise via an election since the 1940s.
‘And in another victory showing what a difference a union makes, on 26 April, UAW reached an agreement with Daimler Truck, including a 25 per cent general wage increase over four years and for the first time profit-sharing and cost-of-living adjustments.
‘Success breeds success; the workers in Chattanooga fought hard for their win and succeeded.
They were the last Volkswagen plant in the world to unionise but will now have a voice in the workplace.
‘Turning the tide in the traditionally anti-union US South, we are supporting the workers at Mercedes in Alabama, in their vote.’

  • Around 1,100 members of UAW Local 869 at Stellantis’ Warren Stamping Plant in Warren, Michigan, will take a strike authorisation vote today, after Stellantis’ failure to resolve health and safety grievances in the plant.

The members will vote on whether to authorise strike action against Stellantis at the plant, over health and safety and outside contractor grievances that the company has failed to resolve.
UAW Local 869 President Romaine McKinney III said: ‘We’re standing up for health and safety at Warren Stamping.
‘When it rains, the facility floods because the ceiling is leaking.
‘We have to fight for every single pair of work gloves, while we handle metal and materials to build world class vehicles for Stellantis.
‘The list goes on, and we’re putting an end to it. Our union grievance procedure gives us the power to stand up for safety on the job, and we intend to take action if necessary.’
Workers at the plant are facing a wide range of issues, including problems with ventilation fans, ergo matting, personal protective equipment (PPE), flooding, basement lighting and flooring, toilets, oil leaks, overall sanitation, and more.
Warren Stamping supplies over half a dozen Stellantis plants, from Windsor, Ontario to Saltillo, Mexico, and any work stoppage could particularly impact production of the Dodge RAM, Jeep Wrangler, and Jeep Wagoneer.
Local 869 voted on April 2nd to authorise a strike over local contract issues, with today’s vote to address a strike authorisation over grievance issues.
Stellantis made nearly $20 billion (£16 billion) in profits last year, and Stellantis Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carlos Tavares was given a 56 per cent rise.