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Frequently Asked Questions

Payroll FAQs PDF (May 2024)

What is a Union?

A union is an organization that serves as a representative for a group of employees, negotiating with the employer to establish terms and conditions of employment.

What is a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)? 

A CBA is the negotiated contract between the union and the university. 

Who is covered by the PhD Student Union CBA? 

Any PhD Student who receives any funding and/or health insurance paid for or routed through Johns Hopkins University in connection with performing teaching, research or similar academic work and are also not full-time faculty and staff at the University. 

Does a PhD Student have to be in the union? 

No; however, if they are a part of the bargaining unit (see previous question), they are covered by the CBA and required to pay union dues or agency fees (similar to union dues and covering the union’s cost in representing employees).

How will union dues and agency fees be calculated and paid? 

TRU-UE determines both the costs of union membership and the agency fee. When employees provide a signed authorization, the University will deduct union dues or agency fees from PhD students’ pay and remit the deducted funds to the union. 

Can faculty members discuss the union with PhD students? 

Yes. Everyone has the right to discuss their opinions. However, faculty and staff members should not engage in “direct dealing” with students about pay, benefits or other working conditions, nor discourage or prohibit students from discussing terms and conditions of PhD appointments. 

Who will receive the ratification bonus? 

All PhD students who were in the bargaining unit at the time of ratification will receive the ratification bonus.

When will eligible bargaining unit members receive the ratification bonus?

30 days after ratification of the CBA. 

What will be the new hourly rate for PhD student employees? 

PhD student employees with hourly work appointments will be paid a minimum hourly rate of $25.41 per hour effective July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2025. 

What constitutes full funding? 

12 months of funding for a full-time PhD student. 

How many years of guaranteed baseline funding are promised in the CBA?

PhD students who matriculate at the University for the first time on or after July 1, 2024 will be guaranteed a minimum of four (4) years of funding if they are in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, School of Nursing, School of Education, and School of International Studies, and a minimum of five (5) years of funding if they are in the Whiting School of Engineering, School of Medicine, and Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.  

PhD students who are already enrolled, depending on the division, will get guaranteed funding for the remainder of their first 4 or 5 years, as applicable. 

The guaranteed funding period is a minimum and many divisions offer a longer period of guaranteed funding. If a division offers any funding or health insurance beyond these guaranteed funding years, the PhD student is covered by the CBA and entitled to all benefits.  

What is the workload of an appointment associated with full baseline funding? 

The collective bargaining agreement provides that “No employee shall be required to perform work covered by [the CBA] for more than twenty (20) hours per week on average.” Time spent by PhD students on academic efforts associated with degree requirements and academic expectations are not subject to this limit. A PhD student can elect to take on voluntary university work beyond the 20 hours per week on average. 

Can PhD students still be appointed to provide research or instructional services on an hourly basis? 

Yes, the union contract includes a schedule of minimum hourly rates for appointments unrelated to base funding. These hourly rates also may be set as a fixed-term, flat-rate equivalent based on a set expectation of hours worked. 

What is an appointment letter? How many should each student have? 

An appointment letter clearly explains the work assignment and required duties. Each work assignment will now require an appointment letter with a range of details about the appointment sent to the PhD student at least four (4) weeks before the work assignment begins when feasible.  

More training and documentation will be provided on appointment letters in summer 2024. 

Can a PhD student have jobs outside the university? 

Yes, there are no restrictions on work external to Hopkins EXCEPT when decreed by funding source or visa status. If advisors have concerns about a student working “too much” outside of their research, then the assessment needs to be with respect to academic progress and not number of hours spent on academic tasks. 

How do PhD students who are bargaining unit members notify supervisors about and request time off? 

PhD student must request time off in writing/email to their direct supervisor(s).  

How will hours/sick leave/vacation be tracked by supervisors?

Hours, vacation days, sick leave are not required to be tracked at the University level. There are not timesheets unless the PhD student is working hourly. Divisions might implement tracking, please contact division leaders for more information.

What is discipline? What is grievance? 

Discipline in the CBA refers to employment actions taken involving job-related misconduct or job-related poor performance. Academic decisions cannot be used as a form of discipline or retaliation. 

A grievance is an allegation that the other party has violated the CBA. Grievances will be dealt with through the multi-step process defined in the CBA. 

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