Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 22, 2024

TRU-UE overwhelmingly ratifies contract with the University

By NICK DAUM | April 23, 2024

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STEVEN SIMPSON / PHOTO EDITOR 

After more than nine months of negotiations with University administration, TRU-UE signed a contract guaranteeing higher stipends, the right to peacefully protest and more.

The Hopkins graduate student union, Teachers and Researchers United (TRU-UE), officially ratified their contract with the University on Thursday, April 18. The vote was nearly unanimous, with 99.5% of TRU-UE members agreeing to ratify the contract. 

TRU-UE had been negotiating with the Hopkins administration for over nine months. The two parties held over 40 unsuccessful negotiation sessions before coming to an agreement on March 29. 

According to TRU-UE’s website, the contract represented “historic wins setting a new standard for grad labor around the country!” The union is also currently issuing new digital membership cards following their announcement of the new contract.  

The contract includes several key provisions, which mainly regard pay and compensation for union members. This included a raise of the minimum stipend to $47,000 per year starting in July. This represents an overall increase of around 32% in stipends across all departments. 

In an email to The News-Letter, TRU-UE member Andrew Eneim wrote about additional financial provisions in the union’s new contract.

“We’ve won a universal starting stipend of $47,000 starting July 1, 2024, with increases to $50,000 and $52,000 the next two years,” he wrote. “All current PhD workers will receive a $1,000 bonus, and all incoming grads will receive $2,000 in relocation assistance. We also won significant improvements in support for international workers, including reimbursements for visa fees as well as increased relocation bonuses.”

Eneim further described how the union won greater benefits for caregivers, including full insurance coverage of dependents at no cost to union members. 

Another important aspect of the union contract includes the right to peacefully protest without being met with force. This came in the wake of the Supreme Court refusing to hear McKesson v. Doe, a case limiting protesters’ rights.

Eneim commented on these provisions of the contract, specifically highlighting the union’s ability to protest the University’s private police force

“This is a victory never before seen that will directly impact Black and brown workers in our bargaining unit, and we hope to continue expanding this protection beyond just our union,” he wrote. 

Union member Justin Otter wrote about the success of the TRU-UE’s contract and its popularity among union constituents in an email to The News-Letter

“Ultimately, the resounding support for the contract shows that our membership is happy with the results,” he wrote. “Our members recognized the historic nature of our contract win and how this contract will change the lives of every one of our members.”

Otter also voiced his opinion as to why negotiations took so long, and he accused the Hopkins administration of hesitancy, especially regarding the union’s non-discrimination proposal.

“The negotiations took a long time because Hopkins continually dragged their feet in bargaining and refused to accept standard contract language early on. They initially fully rejected our non-discrimination proposal,” he wrote. “Through our persistence and the participation of thousands of graduate workers, we forced Hopkins to accept these proposals and eventually concede to our demands or we would go on strike.”

Otter attributed the success of union negotiations to the TRU-UE practice picket earlier this year. He was pleased with the success of current negotiations and mirrored other union members’ feelings about the historic nature of this contract.

Eneim acknowledged that he believed this union contract was a milestone in the industry. However, he also emphasized that TRU-UE will continue to fight for change in the Hopkins workforce.

“This contract is, we believe, a new industry standard in the United States. That being said, there are a variety of additional issues that we look forward to addressing through our collective power as a union,” he wrote. “This isn’t just about a contract but about the democratization of the workplace where the workers have the autonomy to set their own working conditions, and we will continue to exercise that power together.”

TRU-UE still maintains that this is a tentative agreement. However, given the popularity of the contract among both union members and the union administration, the contract is more than likely to become official soon.

Eneim ended his email by reiterating the importance of union members’ work on campus and his pride in TRU-UE’s negotiating successes.

“We look forward to the incredible work our members will be able to do now that they have the proper support to do it. From cancer research in the labs to educating our talented students who attend JHU, we are proud of the work we do and are excited to excel at it without worrying about whether we can afford rent,” he wrote. “I am proud of my coworkers for their willingness to take a risk for each other and win a contract we all deserve.”

The University did not respond to request for comment. 


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