Know Your Rights

Right to organize, Weingarten rights

“Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees’ right to ‘self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection.’

Among the rights protected by Section 7 is the right of union-represented employees, upon request, to have their representative present during an interview that the employee reasonably believes could lead to discipline. … Employees’ right to request their representatives are frequently referred to as ‘Weingarten rights.'”

– The National Labor Relations Board

Email to request union representation during an interview.

You Have A Right to Unionize

“You have the right to organize a union to negotiate with your employer over your terms and conditions of employment. This includes your right to distribute union literature, wear union buttons, t-shirts, or other insignia (except in unusual ‘special circumstances’), solicit coworkers to sign union authorization cards, and discuss the union with coworkers. Supervisors and managers cannot spy on you (or make it appear that they are doing so), coercively question you, threaten you or bribe you regarding your union activity or the union activities of your co-workers. You can’t be fired, disciplined, demoted, or penalized in any way for engaging in these activities.”

– The National Labor Relations Board

What Does this Mean as a Grad Student?

  • Your advisor, staff, or Hopkins administration CANNOT prohibit you from organizing or supporting TRU!
  • This legal right applies equally to both domestic and international students. For more information of particular relevance for international students, please see TRU’s International Student Working Group page.
  • Nonetheless, the threat of retaliation can be a real fear. This is part of the point of unionizing: if we stand together, individual workers can be protected by the support of their peers.
  • If your advisor, or any other Hopkins employee, threatens your funding, degree progress, or academic standing in retaliation for your support of TRU-UE, they are violating federal law. You can learn more about illegal retaliation from the US Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, and report illegal union-busting activity when you see it. 
  • You have a right to safe, healthy, and fair working conditions. Many employers, sometimes Hopkins, violate these fundamental rights. This includes the right to a workplace free of recognized safety hazards, the right to compensation for injury, and the right to a workplace free of age, ethnicity/race, gender, religious, or sexual discrimination.
  • You cannot be assigned to more difficult work tasks or given an increased workload in response, or retaliation to, union organizing; nor can you be removed from your projects or thesis work. This constitutes an unfair labor practice, and an NLRB investigation can be conducted.
  • International and domestic students have the same protected right to participate in collective action, including rallies and strikes.
  • Contact the union organizer in your department, or, if you believe any of your rights have been violated.