Our History and Timeline

Starting as a small group of students in 2014, Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) has since campaigned for and won many improvements to the living conditions of graduate workers at JHU. In 2018, we publicly announced our intentions to win a recognized union for all PhD students at the university, and have been working ever since to build the majority needed to collectively bargain for our first contract. Since 2021, we have been organizing with UE. In 2022, we began signing union cards toward a federally recognized union election through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); in early 2023, we achieved a history victory, with a vote of 97% union YES. We began bargaining out first union contract in May 2023. Check out the timeline below to see how we got here!

A Brief History of TRU

TRU makes its first steps

In the aftermath of a new set of university policies called the “Strategic Plan,” a group of students come together to discuss the implications of the plan. Why did the administration fail to consult or listen to graduate students as they made big decisions around our working conditions? How can…Read More

Healthcare Campaign

Despite the fact that Johns Hopkins boasts a top-ranking medical school and a world-renowned hospital, many JHU graduate workers find they cannot afford to get sick. So TRU launches a healthcare campaign to address the inadequacy of the current health insurance plan currently offered by the administration.

Save the Humanities Center campaign

In the middle of their summer break, the students of the Humanities Center learn that their department would be shut down as of June 30, 2017. Dean Beverly Wendland makes the decision behind closed doors and without public oversight – stranding students and faculty and setting an extremely dangerous precedent.…Read More

Healthcare Campaign Escalates

TRU’s healthcare campaign culminates in an action delivering hundreds of signed postcards from graduate workers demanding better healthcare. Later in the year, JHU finally introduces parental leave for grad workers, and creates the Provost’s Advisory Team on Healthcare (PATH) to review existing grad health insurance.

Health Insurance Improvements Won!

Grad workers finally win improvements to health insurance, including vision and dental coverage, as some of PATH’s recommendations are incorporated into new student insurance plans.

Unionization Campaign Goes Public

TRU goes public as the JHU graduate workers’ union for the first time, publicly announcing our intentions to win collective bargaining rights for graduate workers at Hopkins and negotiate a union contract.

Coalition Work Against University Militarization

Over the course of the Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 academic year, TRU works in coalition with other groups, including the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE working to end JHU’s contracts with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Students Against Private Police seeking to stop the university’s plans for a police force, and…Read More

Organizing for Six Years of Funding and Union Rights

TRU members organize around financial insecurity and the need for at least six years of guaranteed pay for PhD students, after their core concerns are left unaddressed by the Provost’s office. Later in the year, as the Trump administration moves to threaten grad collective bargaining rights, TRU collects hundreds of…Read More


TRU collects over 800 signatures on a petition articulating the relief necessary to protect grad workers, including universal extensions of grad pay, no retribution for delayed research progress, suspension of non-resident tuition fees, and extensions of health insurance coverage. TRU members author a series of op-eds to draw attention to…Read More

COVID Relief Campaign Comes to a Head

After our calls for COVID-19 relief appear to have fallen on deaf ears, TRU members take to the streets in a vehicle caravan from the Medical Campus up to the Homewood campus, to raise the profile of our campaign. Even so, a few weeks later graduate students are excluded from…Read More

Covid concessions won!

TRU’s campaign for relief for grad workers impacted by COVID bears fruit on Friday April 2nd 2021, when it is announced by President Daniels and Provost Kumar that the university will be directing $5 million towards aid for PhD students! This comes in the form of 100 travel and research…Read More

TRU starts organizing with UE

TRU starts working with UE to build toward a union election process through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which has now swung back in favor of grad labor after several years of hostility under the Trump administration.

Grads start signing union cards!

At a 400-person rally on Keyser Quad, Hopkins grads start signing union cards calling for official representation by TRU-UE. 1,582 grads sign on day one, and a supermajority of grads have signed within a few weeks.

Mid-year raises begin

Two weeks after our rally, mid-year raise announcements begin–a tribute to our organizing power! On November 9, the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences announces an increase to the minimum stipend, from $33,000 to $34,500. More scattered raises follow. However, some programs still lack stipends; $34,500 remains well below the…Read More

Union election!

Over 2,000 grads — a supermajority of all Ph.D.s enrolled at JHU — make their way to polls on Homewood, East Baltimore, and SAIS to vote YES for the union on January 30 and 31. Votes are counted on February 1 to reveal a historic margin of victory: 2,053 yes…Read More

Bargaining kickoff!

After electing a bargaining committee of 22 grads from across the university, collecting over 1,100 bargaining survey responses, and ratifying our contract proposals as a membership, we go to the bargaining table for the first time. Grads rally outside as our committee begins negotiations in Shriver Hall. Negotiations continue throughout…Read More