TRU-UE Bargaining Committee Elections!

Last night, after a meeting with hundreds of grad workers, nominations opened for our new 22-member Bargaining Committee (BC): a team of PhD student workers who will take our proposals for a contract to the university administration and directly negotiate for comprehensive improvements to our working conditions. 

But winning a strong contract for ALL grad workers is going to take thousands of grads across JHU to be engaged in the process and putting pressure on university leaders to agree to our demands. That’s why our Bargaining Committee will work in conjunction with the Contract Action Team (CAT), a group of hundreds of grad organizers who will be talking to coworkers, keeping them updated about the process, and mobilizing our union to action. 

Ready to join the CAT? You can sign up here!  And if you are interested in nominating yourself or a coworker for the BC you can do that here. Nominations will be open until next Tuesday Feb 28.

Here are the key dates in our Bargaining Committee election:

  • BC nominations are open from Feb 21 to Feb 28
  • Division-level meetings to learn more and meet the candidates will be on Mar 1 and 2
  • Electronic voting opens Mar 3 and closes at 11:59 pm on Mar 8

Questions about how this election will work? Check out the BC election FAQs here! If you missed last night’s meeting but want a detailed recap, take a look at this write up. And be on the look-out for our future office hour sessions, where you can talk one-on-one with an organizer more in-depth.

Note that nominations for and voting in the Bargaining Committee election will be open to any union member, so make sure you sign your union card to officially join TRU-UE if you haven’t already. 

We are incredibly excited to take this next step as we continue to build a better Hopkins together!


We won our union, now we bargain!

Dear fellow graduate worker,

TLDR: Learn How to Win a Strong Contract *💪*

Tuesday, February 21st @ 6pm

Location: Homewood & East Baltimore campuses and zoom


As you might have heard by now, we won our union! Of the 2,120 people who voted, 2053 voted yes and 67 voted no, resulting in a 97% yes vote margin

This is truly a historic feat, as we believe this is the largest number of yes votes in an NLRB election for grad workers EVER! This was only possible because of our vast network of organizers, our supporters, and the power we’ve built by bringing literally thousands of our colleagues together to demand change at JHU.

So what’s next? Now that we’ve won our election and have been certified as a union, we can bargain a contract to improve the working conditions of all PhD students at Hopkins. 

First, here’s another chance to sign your union card and join our union! Becoming a union member gives you voting power on our proposals and in bargaining committee elections, and demonstrates your commitment to your colleagues to win a strong contract together! 

We are hosting a meeting to explain what we need to do to win a strong contract on Tuesday, February 21st at 6PM. We will have in person locations on each Baltimore campus and a Zoom link. RSVP here for more info! Everyone is encouraged to attend the meeting to learn about what lies ahead for us and get your questions answered!


February 15th TRU Newsletter

Good morning everyone,

We hope you all had a good long rest after all our celebrating! Our election was truly a historic success, not just for Johns Hopkins but also for the national graduate student unionization effort: we had one of the highest percentages of grad students vote YES in the country. We are truly stronger together!

Our outstanding success doesn’t stop with the union election. As a formal union, we now have the power to negotiate with the university administration for our workplace rights in the form of a contract. This means that we need to start assembling a Bargaining Committee that represents our concerns!

OC Meeting: 

Tuesday, February 21st at 6pm EST

Don’t know what we mean by a “Bargaining Committee”? Want to get involved with this next phase of organizing and negotiation? 

Come to next week’s hybrid OC meeting on Tuesday, February 21st at 6pm to find out how! We’ll talk about the importance of a contract, the role of the Bargaining Committee in negotiating that contract, and our new organizing team: the Contract Action Team (CAT). Fill out our RSVP form now to let us know where you’ll be attending:

  • Homewood: Bloomberg 464
  • East Baltimore: Bloomberg SPH W4030
  • Zoom:

Fundraising (and T-Shirts!)

It’s amazing to see how generous our supporters have been throughout our unionization effort, particularly financially! As we gear up for a Bargaining Committee election and contract negotiations, we need critical supplies like software, ink, and paper to help us run a smooth and secure election. 

To make your contribution today, visit our fundraising site! As always, any money you donate will go to the collective work of building a just workplace at Hopkins.

In January, we used some of our funds to purchase fabulous TRU t-shirts. We still have some left, in sizes S-3XL, so get yours today if you haven’t yet! If you would like to purchase a shirt, contact Andrew Einem via the TRU slack or email at 

TRU in the News

Over the past few weeks, a variety of media outlets reported on our election efforts and record-shattering win! Not only did many of our own university communication networks do reporting, but so did many local and national outlets, placing us squarely in the American labor news spotlight.

At Hopkins, the Hub and the JHU Newsletter announced our win to the campus community. In fact, the Newsletter has been a popular space for unionization discussion. Two of our members, Ali Siddiqi and Kristin Brig-Ortiz, also published an op-ed with the Newsletter explaining the purpose of unionization and what we will collectively achieve through it. And a few days ago, the Newsletter‘s editorial board published an article in support of our next step: bargaining for a contract.

Yet the reporting didn’t stop there! The Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Business Journal declared our win to the wider Baltimore community. The academic world learned of our incredible success through Inside Higher Ed, while the rest of the nation read about it through The Real News Network and Jacobin‘s articles. 

Even with the number of takes on the election’s reporting, every article centered on the historic nature of our election success and how it showed the growing power of grad students across the country. By unionizing, we have not only declared our rights to a safe and protected work environment – we also announced just how important we are as teachers and researchers to the entire university!

Working Group Updates

  • Chronically Ill & Disabled Students Working Group: The group is having a casual outdoor social event this afternoon. Come enjoy the sunshine and get to know each other, us, and what we’re working toward. We’ll meet at 4 p.m. on the Keyser quad (in front of Gilman) and will pass out snacks to go, as well as information about an upcoming listening session on 2/21 hosted by our pals at Equal Access in Science and Medicine. Seating and masks will be available. You can also join us on Zoom here. Feel free to just wander over, or register in advance to let us know about any accessibility needs:
  • International Students Working Group: The ISWG will be meeting this week on 18th Feb at 2 pm over Zoom to discuss next steps and our role in the bargaining committee. Please reach out to us if you have concerns or would like to talk about the bargaining committee and our role in it.
  • Parents & Caregivers Working Group: Come to next week’s OC meeting to learn more about how you can nominate a parent or caregiving grad student to the Bargaining Committee (perhaps even yourself)!

In solidarity,

– The TRU Comms Team


Post Victory Newsletter

Good morning everyone,

WE OFFICIALLY HAVE A UNION!! We had an outstanding showing of 2,120 grad students at the polls: 2,053 voted yes and 67 voted no. That means that a whopping 97% of voters said YES to unionization!

Having a formal union means we can truly begin addressing the major issues affecting grads across Hopkins, from Homewood to East Baltimore to SAIS! We’ll be able to negotiate with the university for living wages and on-time payment of those wages, safer workspaces and transportation, fair grievance procedures, firmer international student support, and more concrete solidarity with our Baltimore community. In saying YES to a union, we have declared our right to safe and protected workplaces as we perform the research and teaching that Hopkins hired us to do!

Next stop: contract negotiations!!

A Giant Thank You!

We could not have won a union without the hard work and dedication of our organizers, and the solidarity from colleagues and community members. Thank you to everyone who’s stood and continues to stand in solidarity with us! You’ve supported us in so many ways, but especially financially through donations, physically through on-campus organizing, and verbally and in writing through public displays of solidarity. As a result, all Hopkins grad students have a brilliant future ahead in which they will legitimately have a seat at the table. It’s simply amazing to see what can happen when people join together under the banner of fair labor rights!

We also want to thank everyone who came out on Wednesday night to celebrate the huge win with us! Over 120 JHU grad students, alumni, and partners met at The Royal Blue in Station North, catching up with one another and swapping organizing stories. It was an incredible moment to pause and consider the months and years of effort and struggle that contributed to the election’s success. We look forward to seeing what the future holds next!

Fundraising Campaigns

Even so, our organizing isn’t over quite yet! Because of our enormous victory, we now enter our first bargaining period. This period entails the negotiation of a grad student contract, which will be a democratically-decided product that will create job security for every grad student on campus.

This means that we still need to fund our campaign! During the election, we found that items like t-shirts, buttons, and signs enabled us to effectively reach out to grad students to help them know when, where, and how to get to the polls. We’re asking for your help to be able to continue providing these necessities for the coming months of contract negotiations! 

Don’t forget that there are other up and coming grad student unions that also need our financial help! Princeton-GSU is notably in their own fight for a union election. Please contribute to their fundraising campaign to give them the financial support they need!

International Outreach:

The Recent Earthquake in Turkey & Syria

TRU-ISGW is sending condolences to those affected by the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey and Syria and strength to all that have come together for the rescue and relief efforts, including the tremendous efforts of grassroots organizations and civilians.

Some of our members have gathered a preliminary list of organizations involved in rescue and relief efforts to direct support and help. The following links include outlets for support (please use the browser translate option for auto-generated English translations): 

  1. AHBAP
  2. AKUT

Additionally, we have fellow JHU graduate workers connected to or directly involved in ground efforts for rescue and relief. Please get in touch with Alaa Saad and/or Sheharyar Imran on the TRU slack, who can provide further information and up-to-date lists on grassroots efforts and active NGOs in Diyarbakir and surrounding regions as well as other ways to support. Contact Laurel Poolman on the TRU slack or support this gofundme to help local relief efforts in Islahiye, Gaziantep.

Finally, feel free to reach out to Eda Begum Birol on the TRU slack for further conversation and information on up-to-date outlets for donations.

Working Group News

  • Chronically Ill & Disabled Students Working Group: At our upcoming meeting on Friday (2/10 at 12 p.m.), we’ll be planning a social event and info/listening session. Come and join us on Zoom! Email Jessica Hester (jesshester88@gmail) for the link. Also, this semester, Jessica, Gloria Sun, and Cat LaCourse joined CovidSafeCampus, an international group of disabled academics and activists working to make campuses more accessible in the ongoing pandemic. We’ll have free masks and other resources; more info to come in the next few weeks.
  • International Students Working Group: Reach out to Eda Begum Birol on the TRU slack or join the ISWG channel to get involved with TRU-ISWG and join our efforts to envision and enable a better Hopkins for international students!
  • Parents & Caregivers Working Group: The group is still celebrating our huge victory, so stay tuned for updates to come!

In solidarity,

The TRU-UE Coordinating Committee