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More than 3,000 Johns Hopkins graduate students file motion to unionize; university seeks added time for election agreement

More than 3,000 graduate student workers at the Johns Hopkins University filed to unionize at the start of December. Nearly two weeks after the filing, Hopkins has filed to postpone or reschedule their hearing.

Hopkins graduate students announced plans to unionize back in 2018 and have been rallying ever since. Most recently, the graduate students, as part of the group Teachers and Researchers United (TRU), gathered in October to start their union card campaign and advocate for fair wages as well as several other issues, such as on-time payment and safe workplaces. By the time the students filed to unionize, they counted 3,335 employees among themselves.

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This comes as graduate students nationwide at elite universities are attempting to unionize. This year, union filings have been made at private institutions such as Yale University and Northwestern University.

According to TRU’s Twitter account, the group sent a letter to Hopkins Nov. 18 to see whether the university would voluntarily recognize the union. Ten days later, TRU tweeted that Hopkins declined to recognize the organization, prompting TRU to file for unionization with the National Labor Relations Board.

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The university filed to delay their hearing Tuesday. University spokesperson Megan Christin said Hopkins asked to move the hearing “to a date that was more convenient for everyone” so as to “allow additional time for the parties to work out the terms of a stipulated election agreement.” Such an agreement would “eliminate the need for a hearing.” Such a date change would not impact election dates sought by TRU.

Christin said Hopkins is working “amicably and cooperatively” with the union and the NLRB and that Hopkins “respects the right to organize.”

“For our graduate students, the choice of whether or not to be represented by a union is a personal decision that is entirely up to each eligible voter,” Christin said in a written statement. “The university will not seek to influence voters’ decisions or the outcome of an election. As always, we encourage graduate students to seek out facts and information and to listen to the diverse perspectives that enrich our academic community.”


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