Johns Hopkins graduate students announce plans to unionize

Johns Hopkins University graduate students announced their plans to form a union and demand better working conditions during a rally this week, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The graduate students, who rallied Sept. 26 on the university's Homewood campus in Baltimore, plan to unionize with Service Employees International Union. They told The Baltimore Sun they work unreasonably long hours, receive low pay and are offered unaffordable health insurance.

"We're declaring that we are grad students, but we're also workers at the university, and we're going to form a union because it's the best way for us to have sustainable improvements to our working conditions here," said Joanna Behrman, a fifth-year graduate student and organizing committee member.

A timeline for the unionization efforts has not been finalized, but the organizing committee gathered more than 200 signatures of support before this week's rally, according to the report. The university confirmed it has about 2,400 full-time graduate students at the Homewood campus, where the rally occurred, and about 9,000 full-time graduate students across nine divisions.

University spokesperson Dennis O'Shea told The Baltimore Sun the university has worked to improve the experience for graduate students by offering expanded health benefits, a new parental leave program and investments in career services.

"Johns Hopkins welcomes the discussion on campus about how to continue to improve the graduate student experience," Mr. O'Shea said.

The graduate students were joined at the rally by nurses from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Hospital, who also are trying to unionize with help from National Nurses United.

 

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