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