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To All Our Fellow Ph.D. Colleagues...
Dear Colleagues,

We are graduate teachers and researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Whether making discoveries in the laboratory, teaching foundational courses to undergraduates, or spending late nights at home combing through journal articles, we invest countless hours working for Hopkins. Through this work we improve ourselves as highly skilled researchers, educate future generations, and enhance the reputation of the University. This work is our passion, and it is the first step in our careers. Our labor is absolutely critical in making this university what it is. We are the backbone of academia.

Despite our important role within the university, our voice is minimal in determining our own working conditions or setting the priorities of this institution. There is much we appreciate about the experience of being a graduate worker at Hopkins, but there is also much that we want to see changed. Many of us do not receive affordable health insurance, which has led over 35% of graduate workers to forgo medical treatment altogether in order to avoid debt.^ Many of us are required to work unreasonably long hours as TA’s for little compensation, and feel voiceless in our frustration even as these hours take time away from our own research. For those of us that lack guaranteed funding, this uncertainty makes it hard to plan for our futures and burdens us with stress. For those of us who are from disadvantaged or vulnerable communities, we want an active role in shaping support and inclusion on campus. We want Hopkins to respect our work by adequately supporting us in turn. We want our experience here to be the best it can be so that we can recommend without reservation that students follow in our footsteps.

We can’t wait on the administration to make these changes. We must come together and take action in order for our concerns to be taken seriously. Since 2014, Teachers and Researchers United has been bringing graduate workers from across divisions together in order to have a stronger voice on campus. What we’ve discovered is that when we come together to address our concerns, we win!

When the Humanities Center was under the threat of closure, graduate workers successfully pressured the administration to reverse their decision. When we realized we needed a referral for an ambulance ride to the emergency room, or that so many of us defer necessary medical treatment to avoid unmanageable debt, it was graduate workers who demonstrated in Garland Hall. It is in response to our efforts that the University insurance covers 100% of emergency room and urgent care visits, and now covers dental and vision for all whose healthcare premiums are already paid for by their department. When we raise our voices together, the administration recognizes our power, and listens.

There is more to be done. To do the best research and teaching we can do, we need a voice as grads in the workplace. That’s why we have come together to build a union, TRU-SEIU Local 500, to give us a voice as workers at Johns Hopkins University. Join us! Our voices are only heard when we all speak up. To continue the effort to improve life at JHU, to change things that hurt us while protecting things that help us, join and help strengthen our union. To share your experience and make your voice heard, contact us at and learn more at

^Presentation of Provost’s Advisory Team on Healthcare (PATH) survey results
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