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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.