February GBM

Who’s the union? YOU ARE!


Our first GBM of the year will be Feb. 2, 6-7.30pm EST on Zoom.

Bold text above the TRU logo reads: "The university works because we do!"

Come help set our plans for the upcoming year! Meet current TRU members, get involved with committees, and make your voice heard.

For the Zoom link, sign up for our email list (see the widget to the right), or email us directly at trujhu@gmail.com.

See you all there!

In solidarity,

TRU

Categories: Announcements

TRU stands in solidarity with faculty, students, and staff at Bogazici University, Turkey

Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) at Johns Hopkins University stands in solidarity with students, staff, and faculty at Turkey’s Bogazici University who have been defending academic freedom and autonomy in the face of authoritarianism. 

On January 1, 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed a pro-government academic, Melih Bulu, as the new rector of Bogazici University. This appointment violates the principles and protocols of Bogazici University, which insist on the democratic election of university rectors by the university community. This intervention in the internal affairs of the university is yet another anti-democratic move by the Turkish government, and is part of a larger process of ongoing state repression. Such impositions significantly undermine the academic freedom and scientific autonomy of universities. 

Previously, Bulu was a political candidate of Erdogan’s ruling party (Justice and Development Party), and his political career is rooted in military and corporate circles. Although he has served as rector in a private university prior to his appointment at Bogazici, his academic qualifications have been called into question. It was recently found that his own PhD dissertation is replete with plagiarism. Despite clear evidence, he denies this accusation. His flagrant disregard for academic integrity makes him unfit to serve in such a position. 

On January 4, 2021, hundreds of Bogazici students, faculty, and staff who shared the above concerns gathered to exercise their democratic right to protest against Bulu’s appointment by the central government. They demanded Bulu’s resignation and a democratic election of a new rector by the university community. Police responded to this peaceful protest with excessive force, including the use of pepper spray and water cannons. The ongoing protests have been followed by heavy police blockades around the Bogazici campus, which continue to remain in place, and early morning police raids upon students’ private homes and subsequent arrest and detainment of at least 45 students. 

As a union concerned with academic freedom, militarization of campuses, scientific autonomy, and freedom of expression within universities, TRU condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing attacks by the Turkish government against universities. We openly condemn this blatantly anti-democratic and clientelist appointment of Melih Bulu as the rector of Bogazici, as well as the widespread police brutality, authorized by the Turkish government, on peaceful students. We urge the Turkish government to end its attacks against student activists and meet the demand of the Bogazici community to return to an election-based determination of the university rector.

In solidarity,

Teachers and Researchers United

Categories: Announcements News

Fill out the TRU Covid-19 Survey

As we’re almost halfway through our first all-online semester, we want to keep on top of how operational changes are affecting graduate workers across the University. The administration is planning for the spring, and so are we – please consider contributing your experience to help us figure out what issues should be our focus moving forward!

Click here to fill out the survey, or send us an email at trujhu@gmail.com.

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Join us for our Reading Group!

Wondering what to do with your Saturday? Thinking a little (virtual) jaunt to the museum would be just the ticket? At 2pm EST this Saturday, September 26, join TRU’s new reading group for a discussion of Michigan’s grad student strike, as well as a ramble through a virtual exhibition on activism at Hopkins. And if you’re feeling ambitious, read up a little on the history of grad student unionization and tell us all about it.

For the Zoom link, send us a note at trujhu@gmail.com. Hope to see you there!

TRU Solidarity Statement on Black Lives Matter, Police Brutality and Ron Daniels Statement

Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) stands in solidarity with the protests and uprisings happening across the country in response to the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. We condemn police brutality in the strongest terms and call for justice for all victims of white supremacist violence. 

We demand that Johns Hopkins University recognize the harm caused by its continued insistence on establishing an armed private police force and abandon the plan to do so. We already know the harmful and often deadly consequences of policing for black people, and we are appalled at the university’s willingness to risk black lives on campus and across the wider Baltimore City community to establish its police force.

On Monday, May 31, university leadership issued a statement on the current movement against state-sanctioned racial violence without even using the phrase police brutality. Although the statement mentioned the “senseless violence” facing black communities, it failed to explicitly connect this violence to the actions of law enforcement. This explicit link is a necessary step in taking a firm stand against the militarization of and racism within American police forces. While calls for unity seem appealing during difficult and uncertain times, the university has refused to name the problem and take concrete steps to ensure that the same brutality does not become part of our campus community. Moreover, in response to the ongoing situation, the administration has arranged a virtual town hall rather than pursuing concrete ways to undo the structural harm perpetuated by the university. 

We reaffirm our opposition to the establishment of a private police force and call on Johns Hopkins to re-evaluate whether the use of its supposedly limited funds to finance police is necessary or helpful during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We demand that Johns Hopkins cancel its plans to establish an armed private police force. We believe that the university should use its resources to support and protect undergraduates, graduate workers, faculty, and staff to ensure their health, safety, and wellbeing. A private police force will do exactly the opposite and further weaken the relationship between the university administration and the rest of our campus community.

In Solidarity,

-Teachers and Researchers United

Categories: Announcements News

Solidarity with Columbia Grad Workers

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We stand in solidarity with our fellow graduate workers striking at Columbia University – the need for strong graduate support, apparent before the shutdowns began, is even more acute now!

For more information on Columbia workers’ efforts, please visit their website, where you can see ways to contribute to their solidarity actions – send a form email to their provost, register for a workshop on rent action, or just get in touch to express your support.


Help with our Letter-Writing Campaign!

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Submit a letter to the deans petitioning for greater graduate worker protections HERE

Over the last few weeks, TRU has been negotiating with the Provost’s Office to secure funding, timeline extensions, and health insurance for graduate workers affected by the Covid-19 crisis. However, the provosts have insisted that it’s not up to them, saying that the ultimate decisions are up to the deans and departments.

So let’s go to the deans. Click the link above (or here) to submit a form letter to the deans of the schools, President Daniels, and other upper administrators insisting that extensions be given to all graduate workers, not contingent on department or application. We’ve all been affected by the crisis; accordingly, the accommodations provided should offer equitable support in a streamlined, efficient way that doesn’t add to the difficulties we’re already facing.

Please consider personalizing the letter accordingly! Additionally, if you’d be willing to provide a short testimonial of how the closure of the University and Covid-related disruptions have impacted you, please get in touch with us at trujhu@gmail.com.

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Covid-19 Protections Petition

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Graduate students are facing drastic changes in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers are being expected to work in an entirely different medium without the guarantee of adequate material support, while research assistants will be set back weeks if not months as experiments are cancelled or lay idle. Graduate workers caring for ill loved ones, those with children, those with pre-existing health conditions or who are immunocompromised, and international students face particular challenges. The impacts of this virus will continue for some time, continuing to affect our research, teaching, and degree progress.

As we work to support our undergraduate students and research projects, let the university know that we expect them to support us too. Sign the petition below to demand that our funding, degree progress timelines, and health insurance remain secure in the face of this severe disruption.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION!

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Solidarity with JMI Students

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Teachers and Researchers United at Johns Hopkins University stands in solidarity with students, staff, and faculty at Jamia Milia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University facing police brutality in the wake of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Students, staff, and faculty have every right to protest the rising tide of Islamophobic nationalism in India, and there is absolutely no justification for the horrific violence police forces deployed against them. As an organization concerned with the rights of students to protest and curbing the power of police repression, particularly on campuses, TRU condemns in the strongest possible terms the police actions on these campuses as well as the government officials lending support to these actions. We urge international support and solidarity with students, staff, and faculty at Jamia Milia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University.

We encourage all of our members to sign the following petition to express support. The bravery and sacrifice of these protestors cannot and will not be forgotten as their struggle continues. Physical and mental brutality is never appropriate or okay, and we back all those who fight against it.

Content warning on the petition: descriptions of police violence/sexual violence

Work-In this Thursday

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In this version of the distracted boyfriend meme, the wayward man symbolizes JHU who is distracted by "Cheap Labor" while "Graduate researchers who have a say in their working conditions and academic futureand also maybe want to have kids before they turn thirty" look on in disgust

This Thursday, we are holding a Work-In to publicize our labor as graduate students and to show our opposition to the proposed NLRB rule change denying our status as workers. Come join us on Thursday, December 12 to grade essays and exams, conduct research, write grants, or perform any other work connected to your roles as Teaching or Research Assistants. If you cannot attend the event in-person, we encourage you to contact the Organizing Committee so you can participate remotely over Skype. Or, take a picture of yourself in your workspace, tag us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/teachersandresearchersunited) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/TRUhopkins) with the hashtag #WeAreWorkers. Ask if your lab can showcase its contributions to the university!

Work-In Event Details:
• Date/Time: Thursday, December 12, from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM
• Location: Eisenhower Library, M-Level | Homewood Campus
• Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2645492598870422/

Please feel free to attend any part of the event depending on your schedule, and make sure to invite anyone you know who wants to learn more about TRU. We will have copies of our NLRB petition to sign (https://forms.gle/4iuye6WSYePe7bzi8) as well as buttons and union cards for graduate students who want to demonstrate their support.

Below you can find pdf posters which you can print out and hang to publicize the event. If you have any questions, we welcome you to contact us at trujhu@gmail.com.

Categories: Announcements

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JHU News-Letter Profiles NLRB Struggle

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Bold text above the TRU logo reads: "The university works because we do!"

Today the Johns Hopkins News-Letter published a feature about the ongoing struggle to prevent the National Labor Relations Board from de-classifying graduate students as workers. Since 2016, graduate students at private universities have been classified as employees of their institutions under the National Labor Relations Act. This means we are entitled to certain protections under Federal law, including the right to organize or discuss working conditions without threat of retaliation. A rule change proposed in September of this year seeks to remove these essential protections.

We are fighting this proposed rule change through multiple avenues:

1. By encouraging supporters to sign our petition: https://forms.gle/didt5EkiqJFCN1cf6

2. By encouraging supporters to submit an individual comment to the NLRB: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/09/23/2019-20510/jurisdiction-nonemployee-status-of-university-and-college-students-working-in-connection-with-their

3. By participating in solidarity actions with other grad unions at the NLRB offices in Washington, D.C.: http://trujhu.org/index.php/2019/11/16/national-nlrb-action/

and 4. By holding a Work-In at the Eisenhower Library, M-Level, on Thursday December 12, 8AM-3PM. Check out our Facebook event (https://www.facebook.com/events/2645492598870422/) and stay tuned for more details to come.

The Hopkins News-Letter interviewed two graduate students active in TRU about their thoughts on the ongoing struggle with the NLRB and about organizing on the Hopkins campus. You can read more in the article at the link below.

Categories: Announcements News

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National NLRB Action

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Four members of TRU stand with their arms on each other's shoulders with the Capitol building in the background. Two members are wearing orange shirts and hats with the logo for SEIU Graduate Workers Foward

On Thursday TRU participated in a national day of action at the offices of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in D.C. Alongside other graduate unions including groups from Georgetown, American, Duke, and George Washington Universities, we delivered over 20,000 comments to the NLRB affirming that We Are Workers! This event was covered by multiple media organizations including Newsweek:

In addition, we spoke with elected officials, including Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Mark Pocan. Representative Pocan has just introduced legislation to the House that would enshrine in law the rights of grads at private universities to unionize. If passed, this bill would stop the NLRB’s move to strip worker status from graduate students. For more information on this, see Representative Pocan’s press release below. This bill has been endorsed by SEIU – the larger union of which TRU is a part of SEIU Local 500.

The NLRB has extended the time period for which they are accepting comments – all the way to December 30th! If you haven’t signed on to TRU’s petition yet, we encourage you to do so. The Hopkins Graduate Representative Organization has also voted and signed on to the petition.

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Supporting WGS and Strategy Voting Results

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TRU stands in solidarity with the Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGS). Recently, the Deans of KSAS announced the cancellation of graduate teaching fellowships for this program. This was done without consulting WGS-affiliated faculty and without consideration of the current or former Teaching Fellows. Many graduate students depend on these fellowships for funding, and graduate teaching labor comprises the vast majority of WGS classes taught on campus.

Here’s a letter from former and current WGS fellows explaining the details: https://wgsjhu.home.blog/2019/11/07/women-gender-and-sexuality-studies-teaching-fellowships-an-open-letter-to-the-deans-of-johns-hopkins-university/ 

Last night, members of TRU attended a town hall with Vice Dean for Graduate Education and Centers and Programs (what a mouthful) Matthew Roller. We received very unsatisfactory answers to our questions. We still don’t know where the money they are taking away from WGS would go to. We don’t know why WGS has been singled out form all programs that offer their own fellowships. We don’t know why Hopkins feels it is necessary to go after a program which amplifies marginalized voices on campus. We also still don’t know why WGS isn’t an independent and fully supported department, as it is at many peer institutions.

The town hall was covered by the Hopkins News-Letter:

We also encourage folks to continue to sign the following petition to show support: https://www.change.org/p/the-deans-and-president-of-johns-hopkins-university-saving-women-gender-and-sexuality-studies-scholarship-at-johns-hopkins 

In addition, we are pleased to report the results of the strategy vote from the online votes and from the general body meeting last night. After counting the votes, the union has chosen to move forward with a voluntary recognition campaign in which we push for a contract. Thanks so much to all of you for voting! Stay tuned for updates and plans for future actions!

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Email Re: NLRB Ruling on Graduate Student Unions

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TRU has sent an email to our supporters regarding both the recent decision of Hopkins to cancel its contracts with ICE and the NLRB ruling regarding Graduate Student Unions at private universities. Below is the text of the email. If you would like to receive regular updates from TRU straight to your inbox, go to the “Contact Us” tab or email us at trujhu@gmail.com.


Dear Fellow Graduate Workers,

After months of pressure from the Hopkins Coalition against ICE, Garland Hall Sit-In, Coalition for a Humane Hopkins, Teachers and Researchers United, and other advocacy groups on and off campus, the administration has finally decided to cancel its contracts with ICE! Although the university has not acknowledged how the efforts of students, faculty, and community activists led to this decision, we want to congratulate everyone for helping secure a more compassionate and equitable campus. We hope that this achievement will pave the way for our continued work to end the militarization of Hopkins, sexual harassment, and other abuses at and beyond the university. As we strive for recognition as the official Hopkins graduate workers union through our calls for social justice and for six years of guaranteed funding for doctoral students, this victory demonstrates what our combined influence can achieve.

At the same time, we need to address the recent verdict of the National Labor Relations Board that graduate students do not “work” for their universities. Under a proposed NLRB rule change, the federal government will deny graduate workers the right to unionize and hinder our capacity to improve our labor conditions. The current members of the NLRB refuse to recognize our contributions as teachers, researchers, conference panelists, laboratory scientists, and community builders, all of which ensure the success of our universities. TRU condemns the proposed NLRB rule and will not end its activism until graduate workers nationwide have earned the legal right to collectively bargain for contracts with their home institutions. Just as protest compelled Hopkins to end its contracts with ICE, so too can sustained pressure enable us to bypass the NLRB and demand that the administration offer us a seat at the negotiating table.

We must stand together against the NLRB decision and have the opportunity to comment on its proposed rule change for the next sixty days. We urge you to send your own response to the NLRB at this hyperlink: https://act.seiu.org/onlineactions/2KiN7tevZ06OiP0KD5FR7Q2. We also encourage you to show your solidarity with your fellow graduate students by signing a TRU-SEIU Local 500 union card, which you can acquire from any member of the TRU organizing committee or through the TRU email address. Finally, as we continue to connect departments across Homewood and the School of Medicine, we invite you to help us build our grassroots membership so we can pursue our shared objectives. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at trujhu@gmail.com. Thank you for your continued support, and we promise to fight with you both as students and as workers.

In Solidarity,
Teachers and Researchers United

Categories: Announcements

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VICTORY! Hopkins Cancels ICE Contracts

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A large group of people carrying signs marches from Gilman Hall towards Garland

We did it!!! It has been confirmed that even after JHU renewed a contract between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the School of Medicine, that contract will be canceled.

This victory is a direct result of the tremendous effort, organizing, struggle and love of many different individuals and organizations – on and off campus. This victory is a clear example of how we as Hopkins workers can hold our university accountable, and how we can work with the wider communities of Baltimore, Maryland, and the United States to change things for the better.

When we work together, listen to each other, care for each other, and refuse to give up, great things are possible. We thank the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE, the JHU Sit-In, the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins, Hopkins Nurses United, ACLU of Maryland, Sanctuary DMV, CASA, and so many more who have stood in solidarity together to make this happen.

More details are available in an article by the JHU News Letter. This victory was also covered in The College Post.

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Rally Against Private Police Bill on July 1

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On July 1st over a hundred people gathered in Wyman Park Dell to protest the formation of the Hopkins private police force on the day that the bill permitting this would go into effect. Representatives from multiple university and community organizations spoke at the rally, including individuals from the Coalition Against ICE, the Garland Sit-In, and the Hopkins Nurses Union.

A representative from TRU spoke at the event, saying that as workers of the university who earn revenue for the university in the form of teaching students and pulling in grants, we have a right to determine how the fruits of our labor are used at this university. Moreover, because we are a part of this university, we have a responsibility to hold the institution and its administrators responsible when they abuse their power and undemocratically push through a racist, armed, and unaccountable police force.

The Baltimore Brew covered the rally and march.

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Coalition for a Humane Hopkins, Hopkins Nurses United, and TRU attempt to get a meeting with JHU Hospital Administration

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In the foreground is a red sign which says: "Hey Hopkins, Respect RNs' right to organize." In the background is the facade of the Hopkins Medicine's Billing's administration building.

Today TRU stood in solidarity with Hopkins Nurses United and Coalition For A Humane Hopkins- CAHH as we tried to get a meeting with Hopkins Hospital administration. Here is an account of the events of this morning.

First, our group of Hopkins workers, activists, community members, and more entered the lobby of the Billings administrative building. We were looking for the office of Redonda Miller, the president of Johns Hopkins Hospital, to have a meeting with her and deliver a petition concerning improvements to the hospital.

As soon as we walked past the large statue of Jesus in the lobby we were approached by a security guard. “You’re not allowed back here. Do you have an appointment?” he asked.
Tours go through this area fairly frequently but there was something about our group which immediately signaled to the guard that despite the fact that many of us are *employees of Hopkins* we were trespassing.
Is it because we weren’t dressed in fancy suits?
Is it because many of our faces don’t look like those in the portraits hanging on the walls?
Or is it because there is a little too much fire in our eyes?

Our assorted group attempted to show the flaws in the system to the security guard. How can we set up a meeting if no one will return our calls or emails? “Not my problem,” he said.
As Jesus looked on in the background, we continued to ask for the guard’s assistance. Can they or someone else set up an appointment for us? Is there an administrator who can meet with us here? Would someone be willing to relay a message?

Instead, the guard called for backup.

*Eight* security guards surrounded our group. We continued to ask for help in setting up a meeting or delivering our message. Instead we were told to disperse and leave the building. That “the doors are locked for a reason.” That we don’t have a right to trespass on private property (even though many of us are Hopkins employees). And as some people filmed the interactions with the guards, we were told to put down our phones, that filming is “against policy.” For some reason it seemed much more urgent to the guards that we not film them than that we exit the building (although they wanted that too).

Father Ty Hullinger was with us, and he tried to appeal to the humanity of our cause. No luck. Although, if the Jesus statue came to life and asked to speak with an administrator they’d probably tell him to make an appointment too!

Finally, we read out our petition and delivered the demands and signatures to the most senior security guard in the hope that they would pass them along. The demands included:

  • Suspending the filing of medical debt lawsuits, and dropping all current medical debt lawsuits against patients.
  • Reviewing prior cases in order to reimburse those patients who have been billed more than they should have paid under charity care rules.
  • Screening all patients for charity care eligibility at admissions and increasing signage and notifications about charity care.
  • Removing the citizenship requirement policy for charity care.
  • Meeting with the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins to negotiate a process for implementing these demands in a transparent manner that is accountable to the community.

We left the building and rallied on the sidewalk outside the hospital. Although it was hot as blazes out, we felt invigorated, because Hopkins hospital had shown they are afraid of us! They are afraid because they know we are right and they know we can AND WILL win!

The next rally to improve patient care at Hopkins is coming up July 20th and we hope all the members of TRU will be there to show our belief that a better Hopkins is possible!

Our march with Hopkins Nurses and the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins was covered online in Med Page Today.

TRU Member Interviewed Regarding Private Police on Campus

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On February 13th a rally against private police at Johns Hopkins was held outside Brody Commons. A member of TRU in attendance at the rally was interviewed by the Baltimore Jewish Times. She was quoted as saying: “Baltimore is not the predominantly white uniform face that Hopkins would like to project on its brochures and to the public at large,” she said. “It feels as though, ‘Oh if we make the campus feel safe, or if we project the idea of safety, students will want to come here and parents will want to donate.’ But it’s a false sense of safety and a false sense of security. And of course we have to ask ourselves, ‘safe and secure for whom?’”

TRU continues to oppose the formation of a private, armed, police force on campus because it would endanger the safety of students, workers, and community members. A private police force would not be subject to community oversight, and would only aggravate an already hostile environment towards people of color.

For more on TRU’s history of advocacy regarding private police, see our dedicated webpage on the topic.

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Hopkins Nurses Speak Out at Townhall

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five people st in a row at a long red table. A sign in front of each person identifies them. Above the panelists is a powerpoint projection reading "Hopkins Nurses Speak Out. December 1, 2018."

On December 1, nurses from the Johns Hopkins Hospital presented a report with disturbing information about patient care at Hopkins. They revealed that Hopkins frequently sues its patients for unpaid medical debt. Those targeted by these lawsuits are predominantly poor and Black Baltimoreans. In addition, nurses shared how Hopkins has been illegally intimidation in its efforts to thwart the formation of a nurses’ union.

A flyer with the event details for the "Hopkins Nurses Speak Out" event. The event is described as a "town hall on patient care and public accountability."

A representative of TRU spoke at the event in support. TRU supports the unionization of all workers at Johns Hopkins. Just as the working conditions of graduate students are the learning conditions of undergraduate students, so too the working conditions of nurses are the conditions of care for their patients. Working conditions and the quality of work are inextricably linked. In addition, as workers of Hopkins we will continue to hold our employer to a higher standard. We deserve, and the wider community deserves, a better Hopkins. Unions can continue to hold Hopkins accountable.

A recording of the event is available on Facebook, and the town hall was covered by multiple media outlets. In addition, the JHU News-Letter published an editorial in support.