On September 26, TRU announced the public formation of a union of graduate students across all divisions at Johns Hopkins. Representatives from the National Nurses Union (NNU) at Hopkins, the grad union at Georgetown, and the union of security guards also spoke at the rally. A letter in support of unionization signed by over 200 graduate workers was distributed after the event.
TRU coordinated with Students Against Private Police (SAPP), the International Socialist Organization Baltimore, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation to hold a demonstration in September 21 in protest of Hopkins’s continuing contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The demonstration included a playdate, singing, and a march to Garland Hall where we delivered a petition of over 1,900 signatures. A speak-out was then held at Garland Hall.
The Real News Network and the JHU News Letter covered the September 21 Playdate and Rally. In an interview with The Real News Network, a member of TRU reiterated our demands for increased protection and support for international students and workers as well as students and workers of color.
Although our agitation brought improvements to the Consolidated Health Plan (CHP), the University increased the cost of premiums to protect their bottom line at the expense of students. This has hurt many at Hopkins who must pay for their premiums out of pocket. Improvements in other aspects of health care, such as mental health care, are still needed. TRU will keep organizing until there is affordable, accessible, and comprehensive coverage for all. The JHU News Letter published an article in which one of our members was interviewed on the topic.
As a result of collective organizing, Hopkins implemented a new parental leave policy in the summer of 2017. However, as TRU member Joanna Behrman notes in an interview with the JHU News-Letter, many improvements are still needed. For example, the university has almost no lactation facilities or changing stations. Child care also remains prohibitively expensive for graduate workers.
As we’ve seen with the recent victories in health care and parental leave, only by mobilizing graduate workers for direct action can we achieve concrete improvements to our working conditions. TRU members Peter Weck and Diego Gelsinger published an op-ed in the JHU News-Letter recounting how we were able to achieve these victories. They argue that we must continue to pursue collective action and encourage other grad workers at Hopkins to join the movement.
Fascism and white nationalism threaten the well-being of our community. TRU co-sponsored a speak out at Baltimore’s Penn Station against the rise of fascism and white nationalism, and some graduate workers took to the streets of D.C. in protest. The JHU News Letter covered the event.
Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) marked International Women’s Day with the announcement of a new subcommittee, new organizing goals, and new demands, while some of our members participated in a local march honoring working class women. The JHU News Letter covered the events of the march.
First, TRU announced the work of its recently established Gender Equity Subcommittee. Since 2014, TRU has been speaking to graduate students about working conditions, revealing a host of issues relating to gender, from sexual harassment and high attrition rates to lack of healthcare and services. TRU’s gender equity organizing seeks to address these problems and fight for justice and fair treatment within our workplace, as well as ensuring that gender equity guides the principles and workings of our own organization.
In conjunction with TRU’s ongoing healthcare campaign, the Subcommittee took International Women’s Day as an opportunity to draw attention to one glaring issue: childcare. While other universities offer support to parents, at Johns Hopkins graduate workers pay thousands out of pocket for child care expenses. Flyers posted around campus drew attention to this disparity and demanded that the university administration take steps to offer real support to graduate parents.
In addition to TRU’s organizing, a group of TRU members joined in the Baltimore International Working Women’s Day March. The march, which was sponsored by a number of undergraduate organizations and activist groups, rallied in front of the Eisenhower Library. There, various speakers took up a number of issues– from dealing with anti-Semitism and racism in the United States, to struggles of women in Palestine, Syria, and elsewhere in the global south facing the brunt of climate change, exploitation, and military violence – highlighting the multitude of experiences and struggles that define International Women’s Day.
From the university, marchers proceeded to the People’s Park, and shouted chants supporting Black and Trans lives, calling on the US to condemn fascism and welcome immigrants, and an end to police violence.
At the park, additional speakers focused on issues that intersect with the aims of TRU’s gender equity organizing. First, from Maryland where the lack of a just minimum wage forces many women to work multiple jobs to support their children, to the Philippines where the legacy of US military occupation force women to work overseas to support families back home, gender relations are labor relations. Second, that gender equity is not limited to cis women, but must aim for a much more expansive and complex idea of justice and liberation. (Photo credit Valeria Villanueva)
Angered by the tax bill’s threats to higher education and frustrated by the university’s inadequate responses, graduate students at Johns Hopkins had to act. In addition to endorsing and circulating the Graduate Representative Organization’s (GRO) petition against the tax bill, TRU organized a speak-out for December 7. More than 75 people turned out to listen as members of TRU, as well as a member of the undergraduate organization Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), condemned the bill’s potential effects on graduate students’ ability to continue working in the university and its ramifications for higher education as a whole. Read our campaign page in the link below for full details. The JHU News Letter covered the event and interviewed some members of TRU.
The JHU News Letter did a write up about our march to Garland Hall demand University healthcare reform. Over 50 of our members banded together to ask President Daniels to hold administrators accountable. Read the newsletter article in the link below for full details.
TRU stands in solidarity with the Student Labor Action Coalition (SLAC) in advocating for job security and benefits for University security guards and dining workers. We also support university workers in their struggle for better wages and a “live near your work” program. Read more by clicking on the article in the link below.
TRU co-sponsored an international women’s day rally with Hopkins Feminists, Hopkins for the Homeless, Hopkins College Democrats, Voice for Choice, Hopkins Progressives, and Students for a Democratic Society. The JHU News Letter did a write-up, and more details of the event are in the link below:
A member of TRU was interviewed in a recent Hopkins News-Letter concerning the Hopkins CHP health care plan which effects graduate students in Krieger, Whiting, and the School of Education. She said, “In general, these high co-pays and high deductibles are very problematic for graduate students because we do not really have a considerable income. … We live on a stipend that is okay enough to have a modest kind of living. There’s a lot of students who just avoid seeking medical care if they have issues because they cannot afford those kinds of expenses.”
For more information check out the article by clicking the button below.
TRU stood in solidarity with other activists and unions at Johns Hopkins in demanding a $15 minimum wage for all Hopkins contract workers. TRU is a part of the Student-Labor Action Coalition which also includes Unite Here Local 7, SEIU 32BJ, the Black Student Union (BSU), and Hopkins Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).
Unite Here Local 7 represents the Hopkins dining service workers and SEIU 32BJ represents the Hopkins security workers (aka “Hop Cops”). The Hopkins dining service workers are contracted from BAMCO (Bon Appetit) and the security workers are contracted with Allied Universal Security.
On February 3rd the Coalition held a rally at Hodson Hall and then marched to Garland Hall where we hand-delivered a letter reiterating the request for a meeting with Hopkins administrators, but that email had gone unanswered. The rally was covered by the Johns Hopkins News-Letter.
On February 9th, 2017, hundreds from the JHU community came together on two campuses to protest President Trump’s racist, xenophobic executive order. A representative of TRU joined other speakers in demanding that Hopkins become a Sanctuary Campus, and that JHU administration provide financial resources as well as full time legal counsel to support students and workers impacted by the ban.
Last Thursday, November 17, TRU and other graduate students and organizations marched from the Levering Courtyard to the Wyman Park Building in support of the Humanities Center. At the Wyman Park building we met with three administrators including Matthew Roller, the vice dean of graduate education. However, the goal was to deliver a petition with a list of demands directly to dean Beverly Wendland. TRU and other protestors then sat in at the building for approximately 45 minutes, chanting, reading out demands, and giving speeches.
The event was covered by the Hopkins News Letter, and a member of TRU was interviewed, saying: “Along with the Humanities Center being a place where first rate scholarship is produced, it’s also the place where faculty, students and administrative workers work and get their income to get their means to eat, to pay rent and to cover healthcare … My fellow graduate workers, we got to understand this is a question of our work, of our livelihood.”