Bargaining Updates

Bargaining Tracker

Link the link to see an up-to-date status of our contract proposals!

Bargaining News


  • We reached a tentative agreement for Article 11 (Appointment Duties)
  • We continue to fight for effective grievance procedures, anti-harassment, and non-discrimination protections
  • Sign up to give a testimonial HERE

Dear fellow graduate worker,

We successfully concluded our 5th bargaining session today. We reached another tentative agreement on the subject of appointment duties. This article grants us the right to turn down work that does not fall within the expected duties outlined in our appointment letters, and protects us against doing work solely for the personal benefit of any supervisor at Hopkins. This tentative agreement is a significant win, and allows us to focus on the teaching and research we came here to do.

We continue to work on other important issues. Management insists that their existing policies are sufficient to handle harassment, discrimination, and bullying, and that the contract needs no serious provisions to address these topics. However, according to our bargaining priorities survey, only 26% of grad workers would be confident reporting discrimination or harassment through current mechanisms. In their non-discrimination counter proposal, management merely makes pithy statements of solidarity to assure graduate workers that discrimination is taken seriously at the University. We know, however, that this is not the case. 

We continue our fight on June 8th at 10 AM. If you would like to give a testimonial at a future session about your experiences with JHU’s ineffective grievance procedures, non-discrimination policies, and unsafe work environments, you can sign up HERE.

You can see the exact language of all articles that we’re negotiating on our bargaining tracker HERE.

In Strength and Solidarity, 

The TRU-UE Bargaining Committee


  • Management showed up 20 minutes late without previous notice.
  • First 3 tentative agreements were signed today (general agreement between TRU and JHU, legal provisions of contract, and modification of contract language).
  • Our next session is tomorrow at 10 AM at BSPH W1030.

Today marked our 4th bargaining session with JHU. The day started with JHU admin arriving 20 minutes late to the room, dragging their feet before finally walking through the SPH hallways filled with your presence and beautiful posters. 

We signed our first three tentative agreements today. These agreements codify that our contract exists between JHU and TRU, cannot be altered except by written agreement, and is subject to legal provisions. You can see the exact language of all the articles we’re negotiating on our bargaining tracker HERE.

We received additional counter proposals from JHU today. This includes the obstinate refusal of including academic matters in the contract. These counter proposals also include the creation of a “Labor-Management Committee,” which is JHU’s attempt to avoid following the proposed grievance procedures. 

JHU also proposed weak non-discrimination and harassment protections that try to redirect workers to already-existing ineffective mechanisms. According to Shannon Farmer, lead JHU negotiator, “The University has existing policies and legal obligations that exist outside of the CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement]. We don’t think it’s necessary to include these in the CBA.” We continue to fight for a grievance procedure and non-discrimination rights that don’t risk excluding important groups of people.

In addition, JHU finally presented language stating the future provision of appointment letters. Appointment letters protect workers from conducting business that is outside the scope of their academic, research, teaching, and service endeavors. We look forward to reaching agreements on graduate workers getting official appointment letters for the first time.

We continue bargaining tomorrow at 10am in SPH. We’re excited to continue working together and to show the administration that we deserve a strong union and basic rights. Join us by signing up to provide testimonials for an upcoming bargaining session HERE.

In strength and solidarity, 

The TRU-UE Bargaining Committee 

05/19/2023 – Grad Workers Fight Back With Our Voice

Yesterday during our second bargaining session, the administration flat out rejected many of the proposals that represent the foundation for why we formed a union. The administration outrageously claimed that non-discrimination policies, health and safety policies, public safety concerns, and the vast majority of international workers rights “do not belong in a collective bargaining agreement.” As your bargaining committee, we voiced your anger towards the administration’s stance. The effect was felt during today’s session.

Due to your righteously furious responses, the university began to change their tune and said that they will bring written counter-proposals about non-discrimination policies to our next session. While the administration has not yet committed to negotiating with our initial positions on many proposals, including workload and appointment security, your directed anger and organized action has opened the door for all of us to win a contract with strong and fair provisions on non-discrimination. Administration also made small but meaningful concessions on union rights today, allowing us to reach one new tentative agreement.

Your voices allowed us to make progress today. However, there are still many critical issues that the administration does not want to negotiate on, and it will require organized action to force the movement we need. Throughout bargaining, you can view our proposals and JHU’s counter-proposals at (this page). If you are interested in observing or giving a testimonial during bargaining, you can sign up to do so here. We are excited to fight alongside you for the rights we deserve as workers.

In strength and solidarity,

The TRU-UE Bargaining Team

TL;DR: Johns Hopkins completely denies that we are workers. They delivered insulting non-economic counter proposals that explicitly remove the Union’s ability to secure and defend our rights to a real grievance procedure, basic health and safety, non-discrimination, benefits for international students, non-retaliation, public safety, job security, a reasonable workload, and much, much more.

JHU kicked off today’s session by presenting their non-economic counter proposals. The lead negotiator first framed their counter arguments by introducing a fundamental difference in their definition of a worker, saying: “Johns Hopkins fundamentally views this relationship [between grad workers and the University] as a student relationship.” As stated repeatedly throughout the course of the day, JHU completely denies that we are workers. This was apparent in their insulting counter proposals in which they completely struck out or rejected health and safety protections, non-discrimination proposals, inclusive work environment proposals, protections for international workers, a right to a fair grievance procedure, and protections against retaliation, among many other important and fundamental provisions for worker safety. They said it best themselves:

JHU Rejects the Following Articles:








In their counter proposal on grievance procedures specifically, JHU wrote: “The Union acknowledges that it has no right to interfere with or grieve decisions regarding academic performance, academic discipline…non-employment violations of Title IX, including such decisions that may impact a student’s employment.” The reason we unionized is precisely because existing policies are not protecting workers. These are the same policies JHU implies are sufficient. 

When we asked, “What is the reason for striking out our proposal for grievance procedures?”, JHU responded, “If it’s a student misconduct issue, then it’s outside the purview of the union. This does not belong in a collective bargaining agreement.”

When the union asked about the entirety of non-discrimination policies being removed, language that had been copied directly from JHU’s existing policies with us adding expanded categories including caste, marital status, family status, parental or caregiver status, pregnancy status, gender transition status, political affiliation or belief, and more, JHU responded, “All protected classes are already covered by university policy or federal/state/local law. We believe there are adequate protections that already exist through legal process and university policy and are not necessary in the collective bargaining agreement.”

Instead, JHU proposed their own initial non-economic proposals that formally vest all power regarding academic discipline, misconduct, insurance, job content, and quite literally everything the University already has control over, in their own hands under the umbrella of “management rights.” One example is that JHU believes that they have the “sole discretion and decision making power over our research methodology and materials.” They have also scrapped our demands for meaningful intellectual property rights, saying once again that this does not belong in a collective bargaining agreement. It’s clear they want all the profit of our research and labor while giving us no protections. 

Throughout the day, JHU admin reiterated that any “individual” concerns we have can and should be addressed interpersonally, individually, and through Hopkins’ existing policies that serve to remedy student issues. 

We provided examples of issues TRU members face that require redress in a Union contract. For example, the Chemistry department requested a routine external review of lab safety practices, and the review found that the current lab safety culture is unacceptable. We therefore asked JHU, “Given that our members are reporting systematic examples of failures to health and safety policies…, how do you expect the monitoring of workplace safety to happen outside of a union contract?” They told us plainly: “There are existing means by which to raise those issues and existing legal protections to protect students from such cases. This does not belong in a collective bargaining agreement.”

When we asked JHU to clarify “does the university think that current policies cover both work and academic issues sufficiently?,” we heard a resounding “Yes!” from many admin members on the other side of the table. Hopkins mistakenly believes the issues we face in our workplaces are minor, rare, and inconsequential to our everyday lives. Why would a supermajority of graduate workers have voted YES to unionize over such “small issues”?

We know that JHU is afraid of how mobilized and organized our base is. The effects of the Bargaining Kickoff Rally last week deeply threatened their power at the table. They expressed grave disappointment that we did not seek prior authorization to use Wyman Quad while simultaneously confirming that if we had asked, our request would have been denied. They also expressed disappointment that due to our demonstration, the freshly laid sod had been damaged, and the University had to replant it. We responded by sharing their own published policies that clearly state, “prior arrangements are not required for student demonstrations” to which they had no answer. JHU cares more about their grass than grads! 

They reiterated this fear in a “No Strike” clause. In this clause, they proposed to limit our ability to not only strike ourselves but to even stand in solidarity with other workers in and outside of JHU without being disciplined or discharged from the University. If we are, as JHU so firmly believes, not workers, then why would even the thought of a strike threaten them so deeply?

We are outraged that JHU would disrespect the bargaining process by striking out the majority of our proposals today and are committed now more than ever to securing the rights we deserve in our union contract. Your support will be essential to winning us the protections we so desperately need and that indeed belong in a collective bargaining agreement. We will reconvene bargaining tomorrow, May 19th, with some of our own counters to the insulting proposals presented to us today. Throughout bargaining, you can view our proposals and JHU’s counter proposals at

We will not allow JHU to undermine us, to run this university on the backs of our labor while refusing to acknowledge us as workers, and to deny us very basic human rights that include the right to a safe and inclusive work environment. Everything we proposed was ignored on the basis of refusing to acknowledge our status as workers and thus outside of the scope of what could be negotiated through collective bargaining. 

We are prepared to fight for what we deserve, and are excited for you to join us!

In strength and solidarity, 

The TRU-UE Bargaining Committee

Dear Fellow TRU Members,

It was an amazing day to gather to fight for livable wages, fair benefits, and reasonable workspace rights!

We were immensely energized as a bargaining committee to see hundreds of graduate workers and allies at the Bargaining Kickoff Rally, and we were able to carry that joy with us as we continued to hear chants when bargaining started back up in the afternoon. 

Our power comes from our numbers and our labor, so sign up for the Contract Action Team here to continue to help us that strength! Given that the university administration’s representatives decided to shrink away from the rally, we know they felt graduate workers’ collective power! 

We officially started bargaining at 10AM, and began with a series of opening statements. These were given by members of the bargaining committee on issues critical to all of us, ranging from union security to transit. 

Kwaku Quansah kicked off our opening remarks with a statement about how critical union shop is to the long term wellbeing of our membership, saying:

“By safeguarding our Union, we, the graduate workers of Johns Hopkins University, will be able to confidently drive the invaluable research work that has made our institution stand out among its peers.”

As one of several speakers addressing the need for fair benefits and pay, Breanne Kincaid gave an inspiring address on the need for liveable stipends, saying:

“[Hopkins’] commitment to Baltimore must begin with the 3,300 graduate students whose stipend dictates whether they can afford safe and dignified housing, their vulnerability to predatory landlords, and whether they can reinvest in the city they call home. Students shouldn’t be reliant on public resources to prevent food insecurity and medical bankruptcy.”

Steven Sola closed our statements with a poignant reminder on the importance of an effective grievance procedure, saying that under the current system:

“There is no recourse when bad things happen, and as a PhD employee, you have no power to change things in the department or the school.”

Following opening statements, the bargaining committee spent some time walking through our noneconomic contract proposals with administration. Hopkins administration provided no counter proposals at this session. They instead chose to ask a series of questions about the nature of our proposals after a two hour break they requested. Some of these questions included inquiries into why graduate workers would want funding transparency, if there was any particular reason we requested protections for break rooms for graduate workers, and if it was really true that workers were asked to take on additional unpaid work over the course of their degree. 

We will reconvene bargaining May 18th and have scheduled meetings with the university on May 19th, May 31st, June 1st. We expect to hear responses from Hopkins’ administration on our proposals starting on the 18th. In the meantime, we are excited to continue to build union power together. In order to win all of the contract asks that we need and deserve, it will be absolutely necessary that we collectively maintain and expand our organizing!

This can look like having 1-on-1 conversations with coworkers, going on walkthroughs in labs, and attending organizing meetings. This upcoming Tuesday evening at 6pm we will have an all-members Contract Action Team meeting where we will plan next steps in our organizing, and we strongly encourage unit members to attend (and RSVP here!).  We look forward to the coming months of organizing, fighting and winning together!

In strength and solidarity,

The TRU-UE Bargaining Committee