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Johns Hopkins graduate student union ratifies first contract


The Johns Hopkins University graduate student workers’ union ratified its first contract agreement with the private Baltimore university last week.

With the contract approved April 18, members of Teachers and Researchers United, or TRU, made up of Ph.D. students teaching or conducting research while earning their degrees, have become some of the highest-paid graduate workers compared with the cost of living in the country.

TRU wrote on the social platform X that 1,754 voters ratified the contract with 99.5% in favor.

“…this contract has been made possible by your contributions,” TRU wrote to members. “Every card signature, discussion with coworkers, attendance at a meeting/demonstration, or pledge to withhold labor helped get us to where we are today. This is your contract, you won it. Be proud!”

TRU’s 22-member bargaining committee and Hopkins representatives on March 29 that sets a minimum stipend of $47,000 per year, guarantees stipends for four years of a five-year degree and provides up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

Hopkins spokesperson Megan Christin said in an emailed statement that the union members “engaged so constructively throughout the bargaining process.”

“As the birthplace of doctoral education in America, we recognize this as an opportunity to ensure JHU continues to build on its legacy of not only providing world-class doctoral education and training but developing innovative new approaches to supporting our PhDs in achieving personal and professional success,” the statement reads.

TRU did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

The three-year agreement will have stipends start at $47,000 in July and increase to $50,000 by the second year, then a 4% increase in year three. Graduate workers each receive a one-time $1,000 signing bonus for ratifying the contract.

The contract also includes paid health benefits for children and some spouses, parental leave benefits and increased vacation and sick time. If not otherwise specified in the contract, benefits and protections took effect immediately, TRU posted.

“We are confident this newly ratified contract will allow Hopkins PhD programs to offer highly competitive funding packages and continue building on our nearly 150-year-old tradition of recruiting some of brightest minds and most promising talent in the world to study here in Baltimore,” Hopkins President Ron Daniels and Provost Ray Jayawardhana wrote in a message to faculty.

Last year, over 3,300 Hopkins Ph.D. students with a 97% vote, making Hopkins one of many elite higher education institutions to certify a graduate student union. TRU’s next step is writing a constitution, “so we can elect officers, support grievances, and more!” the union posted on X.

“Everybody is getting paid fairly, and there aren’t these tiers that the university created in the past,” TRU member Andrew Eneim told The Baltimore Sun when the union reached an agreement with the university.