TRU Condemns JHU Union-busting against Nurses

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Johns Hopkins Hospital management has been engaging in illegal activities by attempting to block the organizing of a nurses union at Johns Hopkins Hospital. These illegal activities include preventing nurses from speaking with their colleagues in other departments during breaks or from coming into work on their days off. The NLRB has confirmed that Hopkins has engaged in illegal union-busting activities.

Two members of TRU were interviewed in a recent article in the Hopkins News Letter regarding the university’s union-busting. TRU unequivocally condemns the university’s illegal activities and supports the nurses in their efforts to unionize for better working conditions and patient care. One representative said:

“As grads at Hopkins work to strengthen our own union, it’s vital that we continue to support and stand in solidarity with the nurses in their struggle. When Hopkins tries to bust up unions, mistreat its workers or pursue unjust policies, the only way the community can hope to hold it accountable is by standing together.”

Another member said:

“Of course an institution like Hopkins would absolutely hate it if graduate students and nurses started their own unions. They would have to bargain with us, they would have to give us better working conditions and job security. And while I would argue that all of these things would only improve the productivity and efficiency of Hopkins workers across the board, I am sure the administration sees it as a gigantic thorn in their side.”

The full article is available on the JHU News Letter website.

Categories: News


TRU Rep. Interviewed Regarding ICE Contracts

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

A representative of TRU was interviewed by the Hopkins News Letter regarding JHU’s refusal to end the contracts with ICE. He said:

The University is participating in supporting an agency whose main purpose is mass surveillance, tracking-down and deporting immigrant families who are living peacefully in this country. That’s not academic.

You can read the full article on the News Letter Website.

Categories: News


JHU’s Unacceptable Response to ICE Contract Petition

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On October 17, President Daniels and Provost Kumar responded to the petition which we delivered on September 21. They did so in a letter emailed only to Dr. Drew Daniel, TRU, Students Against Private Police, the undergraduate Student Government Association, and the Graduate Representative Organization. A copy of their email is attached and transcribed below, along with the response written by the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE and endorsed by TRU.


October 17, 2018
Via Electronic Delivery
Dear Dr. Daniel and Members of the Johns Hopkins Community,

We are writing to you in response to your petition requesting that the university end its contracts with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). We appreciate your efforts to engage our community in debate around significant national policy issues and the work and role of our university. The concerns you raise are serious and deserve a considered response.

At issue are two long-standing educational programs that provide emergency medical training and leadership education:

  • The School of Education’s Division of Public Safety Leadership (PSL) has taught leadership and management courses in degree and certificate programs to law enforcement and public safety personnel at the local, state, and federal levels since 1994, including under a contract with ICE since 2008. This contract will expire in 2019, and the
    PSL program as a whole is currently being wound down.
  • The School of Medicine’s Center for Law Enforcement Medicine provides specialized physician oversight and education for federal law enforcement personnel who are cross-trained as paramedics and emergency medical technicians, including under contracts with the U.S. Secret Service (since 1999), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (since 2007), the U.S. Marshals Service (since 2007), and ICE (since 2004).

Your petition focuses on the role of ICE in carrying out the immigration policies of the current administration, particularly with respect to family separation and deportation. The petition argues that the policies and actions of ICE are so repugnant to the widely shared values of our
community that we should intervene to terminate the contracts and disassociate the university from the agency.

What we believe is not at issue in your petition, but we want to reaffirm based on other questions we’ve received, is the university’s unwavering commitment to supporting our international and DACA students; offering broad access and support to our students, faculty, and staff without regard to immigration status; and providing exceptional care to immigrant and refugee populations in our hospitals and clinics in the United States and around the world. Johns Hopkins does not provide information about the immigration status of members of our community unless required by law, and Johns Hopkins’ safety and security officers neither request information regarding citizenship nor enforce federal immigration laws without a specific court order. We have been unequivocal in our public statements concerning the consequences of recent immigration policies that have a clear, direct, and demonstrable impact on members of our university community.

[Page 2]

After carefully considering your petition, we have concluded that it would be inappropriate and inadvisable for the university to agree to your request.

Our reasoning is grounded in the university’s long-standing deference to faculty decisions made in relation to their research, teaching, and clinical work. This stance is an aspect of our more generalized commitment to the principle of academic freedom.

Here, the two programs at issue were initiated some years ago by members of the faculty in the School of Education and School of Medicine; today, these and other faculty colleagues are responsible for fulfilling and overseeing the programs and remain committed to undertaking educational activities with the agency. Notably, colleagues who lead and participate in these programs do not regard their work as constituting an endorsement—explicitly or implicitly—of the current administration’s immigration policies. In fact, colleagues involved in the programs
share the reservations you have raised about aspects of the federal government’s current immigration enforcement activities. Yet, despite these concerns, our colleagues believe that their programs serve the public interest by providing quality education and emergency medical training
that ultimately benefit those who interact with the agency. Their conviction is buttressed by the fact that the two programs appear to function at some distance from the policies and operational decisions of the federal government, decisions that necessarily change over time and across

We believe that it would be antithetical to the mission of the university if we were to insist that faculty members withhold instruction or medical care in order to have the university express its disapproval of certain aspects of current federal policy.

In this respect, we see a similarity to the view held by faculty elsewhere in the university who conduct research and educational activities in foreign countries where the governments’ norms and policies are regarded by many in our university community as harmful, offensive, or unjust. Despite our colleagues’ criticism of, and opposition to, those countries’ norms and policies, they believe that the benefit of their work—in public health, medical care, engineering, or policy development—merits continued engagement, and even direct work, with these governments. And the university has been unflinching in its support for these activities.

While the claim to protection for research, education, and clinical activities by faculty and students on the grounds of academic freedom is not unbounded, the university must be exceptionally reluctant to abridge that protection. In this case, and after careful consideration of the views of affected faculty, we have concluded that it would be wrong to insist that these contracts be terminated. Thank you again for conveying your views and concerns on this important matter.


Ronald J. Daniels, President

Sunil Kumar, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Our Response

The Hopkins Coalition Against ICE has drafted a response, which has been endorsed by a number of groups, including TRU, rejecting the administration’s specious logic.

Endorsement of the Anti-ICE Coalition’s Response to University

In September, nearly 2,000 university affiliates petitioned Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to immediately end its partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). On October 17, President Daniels rejected our demands, emphasizing that the Public Safety Leadership program is winding down and claiming that ending the Center for Law Enforcement Medicine’s cooperation with ICE would infringe on academic freedom. The administration also highlighted that the university does not abridge existing contracts on the basis of changes in federal policy.

These justifications are unacceptable. Facilitating the activities of ICE — including family separation, indefinite detention and mass deportation — is antithetical to the university’s proclaimed values, lacks the academic merit warranting the invocation of academic freedom, and is indefensible under any administration.

JHU has at least three ongoing contracts with ICE, including a program in the School of Medicine that provides medical training to law enforcement agencies and another in the School of Education that provides organizational leadership training. These contracts amount to over $1.6 million in revenue for JHU. But the university’s collaboration with ICE has not been limited to these 5 contracts: since 2009, the university has held 37 contracts with ICE, with the most lucrative worth nearly $950,000. In total, the university has received $6.5 million from ICE since 2008.

Their defense of these contracts is increasingly untenable by the day. In the time since the university’s response to our petition, President Trump sent 5,200 troops to the US’s southern border in response to an imaginary migration crisis and announced plans to eliminate birthright citizenship. At least 220 children separated from their families still remain in custody, four months after a judge ordered all families to be reunited.

These policies are a continuation of the xenophobic logic that ICE was founded on 15 years ago. Their effects are devastating and far-reaching. JHU’s claim that the contracts are made at a “distance from the policies and operational decisions of the federal government” is irrelevant. Our position is that there is no justifiable way to participate in an oppressive institution regardless of whether one supplies the bullets or the band aids.

The university administration defends these contracts by claiming that to terminate them executively would infringe on academic freedom. In this defense, the administration appears to offer protection for faculty to teach controversial subjects without fear of reprisal. The instructional manner of these contracted courses belies the validity of this defense.

The Department of Homeland Security has contracted with Johns Hopkins University, not individual professors. Many of the courses, both in the School of Medicine and School of Education, are led by part-time instructors who are hired on a course-by-course basis, meaning that the instructors do not have a say in whether to maintain these courses.

Under the proposed definition of academic freedom advanced in the letter, JHU is obliged to accept any contract that has the support of a faculty member. This is not the purpose of academic freedom protections. These “courses” are not forums for controversial discussions, venues for critical examination of fraught topics, or tools for research and knowledge production. They are training programs which enable human rights abuses.

JHU administration also claims that the medical training it provides “ultimately benefits those who interact with” ICE. This is an irrelevant point. If JHU wishes to provide medical services to migrants, they need not to do so through ICE. Academic freedom should not give cover to the immense human cost of facilitating this agency’s activities.

JHU’s response to our petition also underlined the services the university provides to immigrants and proclaimed its support for its students, faculty, and staff “regardless of immigration status.”

Currently, there are several constructive ways in which JHU members contribute to the migrant community. Faculty and students at the School of Public Health, for example, carry out important research to expose the deleterious effects of family separation on children, and have been addressing how the fear of deportation contributes to suicide. We believe in the value of this work and support its continuation and expansion.

At the same time, some of the university administration’s recent actions detract from this positive legacy. Over the summer, the university informed one of its employees of five years that it had failed to submit her H1-B visa application on time because it “would no longer be accepted by the people who scrutinize these things.” Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel, Digital Scholarship Specialist and Adjunct Professor of Digital Humanities at Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries, was given only ten days to leave the US—forcing her to leave her family behind. When she appealed to the university administration she was met with indifference. Nearly 2,000 people petitioned the university on her behalf, but the administration remains silent to this day.

We call on JHU to end its complicity with mass deportations and family separations, and take concrete steps to protect international students and employees. We will not cease our demands until the JHU administration terminates its contracts with ICE.

Endorsed by:
American Civil Liberties Union (Maryland)
Teachers and Researchers United
International Socialist Organization (Baltimore)
Students Against Private Police
Party for Socialism and Liberation (Baltimore)
Johns Hopkins Student Government Association
Industrial Workers of the World (Baltimore)
Jews United for Justice
Students for Justice in Palestine (JHU)

Categories: Announcements News


TRU Stands in Solidarity with Christine Blasey Ford

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A group of people, dressed predominantly in black, stands under the columned porch of Gilman hall. Some individuals have black tape over their mouths, while others hold signs saying things like "#MeToo" or "Believe Women"

Members and representatives of TRU attended the September 27 silent vigil in support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and all survivors. One representative of TRU spoke at the event. The JHU News Letter covered the event.

TRU stands in solidarity with all survivors of sexual harassment and assault. Unfortunately, sexual harassment and assault is no stranger to academia or the Johns Hopkins campus. And even just hearing about sexual assault (in the media or elsewhere) can be traumatic for survivors and their loved ones. Below are some resources that may be helpful to those in the Hopkins and Baltimore community.

  • SARU (Sexual Assault Response & Prevention) is autonomous & student-run. Their 24/7 private hotline can help direct you to further resources. The support line number is 410-516-7887 and the SARU email is SARU’s training is similar to that at RAINN.
  • JHU Counseling Center runs a 24/7 helpline, staffed by an on-call counselor. The number for the Sexual Assault Helpline is 410-516-7333 For more information see 

Note that everyone is obligated under Maryland law to report child abuse, but otherwise SARU staffers are not mandated reporters. Be aware that some Hopkins staff are mandated reporters.

For information on reporting via the OIE, see:

  • In the wider Baltimore area there is also CHANA. Helpline: 410-234-0023, CHANA offers a Jewish community response to the needs of those who experience abuse, trauma and neglect.
  • And TurnAround, Inc. provides 24/7 crisis intervention, trauma therapy, victim advocacy, community education and training, accompaniment services and shelter. (Hotline: 443-279-0379, For crisis intervention&referral 410-377-8111) 2300 North Charles Street, Bmore. Their website is:


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A crowd gathers in front of the Eisenhower library steps under a cloudless blue sky. Some people carry signs saying "I support my TA" or "TRU working for you" or "Grad worker". Many people are also wearing buttons. There is a photographer and two videographers. Gilman hall is visible in the background.

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.

The rally and announcement was covered by multiple news outlets including the JHU News Letter, the Real News Network, and the Baltimore Sun.

A sepia-colored poster announces a rally for grad workers with the title "Stand Up Speak Out". Three fists with different skin tones are raised up in front of a Gilman Hall tower which is faded int the background. Text running up the right side of the poster reads "Stand with us to build graduate workers' power at JHU"

TRU Co-Sponsors Demonstration to Protest Hopkins Contracts with ICE

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

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.

A member of TRU speaks at Garland Hall. A large ribbon of paper hangs over the railing with all the petition signatures on it.
A member of TRU speaks at Garland Hall. The large ribbon of paper is the list of signatures on the petition.

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.

Categories: News


Health Care Gains Not Felt Equally

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piles of pamphlets about changes to the CHP health care plan

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.

Categories: News


TRU Joins Other Hopkins Organizations to Oppose University Contracts with ICE

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poster callng for a rally to end the hopkins contracts with ICE

In light of recent events and the continuing human rights violations committed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), TRU calls on Johns Hopkins University to drop its contract with the agency. As TRU member Sam Agarwal stated in an article in the JHU News-Letter, if Hopkins wants to live up to its pledge to be a sanctuary campus, it must terminate this financial partnership.

TRU will co-sponsor a “playdate” rally and march to bring attention to the contracts and call on JHU to end them.

Parental Resources have Improved, but Still a Long Way to Go

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cllose up on graph showing hopkins offers nothing in child support suoth

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.

Categories: News


Grad Organizing Works

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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.

Categories: News


TRU Stands with other Baltimore Organizations against the Unite the Right 2 Rally

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grads march in the streets of DC

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.

A member of TRU speaks out at Penn Station.

Categories: News


TRU connects gender and labor relations at JHU on International Women’s Day

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Grad speaks into megaphone at rally

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.

Posters hung up around campus showed how little Johns Hopkins supports grad student parents in comparison with peer institutions.

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)

Categories: Announcements News


TRU Organizes Grad Tax Speak Out

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grad speaks before a gathering of people on the beach, 2017

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.

Categories: News


TRU stands in Solidarity with SLAC and Subcontracted Workers

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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 Member Points Out Flaws in CHP Health Care

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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.

Categories: News


Contract Workers Deserve a Living Wage

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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.

Anti-Muslim Ban Rally

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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.

The JHU News-Letter covered the rally.