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UT Austin Faculty Strike in Solidarity With Pro-Palestine Student Protesters

Faculty are acting together, without a union, to break the law and stop work in order to protect the student movement.

Texas State Troopers and other police forces monitor the scene as pro-Palestinian students protest on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, on April 24, 2024.

Faculty from universities across the country have begun to mobilize in solidarity with the student movement for Palestine. From NYU, where faculty linked arms to protect students from police; to Columbia University, where faculty engaged in a solidarity walkout with the Gaza Solidarity Encampment; to Barnard College, where staff planned a sick-out in defense of their students — faculty are rising up in defense of their students. At the University of Texas Austin, faculty have announced a 24-hour work stoppage as part of the fight against student repression.

The action is the first so far in which faculty are using their power as workers to halt university operations in solidarity with student protestors. They are leveraging the fact that they make the university run in order to grind it to a halt. As we noted recently, while the past few years have seen many graduate worker and contingent faculty strikes, it’s very unusual in recent decades for faculty to mobilize to this extent outside of the context of collective bargaining.

Notably, public sector workers in Texas have serious restrictions on collective bargaining, meaning they do not have the ability to organize unions and negotiate from those unions. In other words, these workers are acting as a united group without having a union. Additionally, Texas has a full ban on public sector workers engaging in work stoppages — this means faculty at UT Austin are acting together, without a union, to break the law and stop work in order to protect the student movement. This action shows that, even if workers have no current legal pathway for unionization, they can still act as a union — in fact, public sector collective bargaining rights were won through strikes like these.

UT Austin faculty released the following statement on their action:

Statement from Concerned UT Austin Faculty: In Response to UT Austin's Militarized Response to Student Event

This action from UT Austin is incredibly important, and one that must not stop at this university. Faculty across the nation are moved to act in defense of the student movement — let us use our power as workers to do so most effectively. We are the reason the university runs, and we must grind it to a halt in the face of repression.

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