Hopkins Hospital agrees to raise wages, reaches tentative pact with union

Union claims important victory in new 4-and-a-half year contract with city's largest private hospital. Compromises made on some wage issues.

hopkins strike in april

Service and technical workers at Hopkins Hospital staged a three-day strike in April.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

Agreeing to increase the wages of its lowest-paid workers, Johns Hopkins Hospital has reached a tentative agreement with 1199SEIU, The Brew has learned.

After months of tense negotiations and under the threat of a second strike, the hospital agreed to a $14.50-an-hour minimum wage for workers with 15 years of experience next year, according to union spokesman Jim McNeill.

This is less than a $15 minimum “floor” sought by the union, but significantly more than the 1.5% wage increase previously offered by hospital management, McNeill said.

The parties reached an agreement at 2 a.m. this morning following an evening of negotiations that followed Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s call for a “cooling-off” period.

“This is an important victory for patients and workers all across Baltimore,” said John Reid, an executive vice president of 1199SEIU, in a release. “Johns Hopkins Hospital sets the standard for health care in our city and that standard has just been raised.”

In a statement to The Brew, Hopkins Medicine  spokesperson Kim Hoppe said, “We are glad we have arrived at a resolution that works for all parties and look forward to continuing our focus on providing world-class patient care.”

Aggressive Campaign

Representing 2,000 janitorial, service and technical workers, 1199SEIU has conducted an aggressive campaign against what it termed Hopkins “poverty wages.”

The union contended that Baltimore’s largest private hospital so underpays its workers that many had to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and other public assistance to make ends meet.

The union held a three-day strike in April, a mass rally in the Inner Harbor in May and had scheduled a four-day strike late last month. The second strike was called off after Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley asked both parties on June 27 to agree to a one-week cooling-off period.

Opting against a strike over the Fourth of July weekend, the union met with management for talks beginning at 5 p.m. yesterday.

Union members are scheduled to vote on the 4½-year contract this Thursday and Friday.

Highlights of the pact are:

• A boost of as much as $4.30 an hour over the life of the contract for Hopkins’ lowest-paid workers.

• Current workers will make at least $13 an hour by 2018 – or $1 more than previously offered by Hopkins – and workers with 15 years of experience will earn $15 an hour or more by that year.

• Across-the-board raises of at least 2% every year, with a 0.5% bonus in the first year of the contract and a 2.75% raise in 2017.

• An agreement to establish a committee to review market rates for surgical techs, pharmacy techs and other workers, whose pay the union contends, is under market.

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  • ushanellore

    Persist and you will win. What a country! The Supreme Court enervates unions by its verdict in favor of home health care workers who didn’t want to pay union dues and felt coerced that such dues were mandated. Now no more for them–interpreted as a narrow ruling against the union. But remember this is the Roberts Court–sneaky as hell. After it gets the majority to sign on to what appears to be a narrow ruling it expands the ruling to include everyone. Before long there may be no unions in this country. Labor gains lost, we are already mud on the boss man’s shoes. I say yeah Hopkins workers. You may be the last of your ilk.

    • flintsparc

      The mistake being made here is that conservatives think that labor unions derive their power from legal authority. They don’t. A labor union’s power comes from the ability of workers to organize and collectively withdraw their labor. The legal framework helped grant the state and employers “labor peace”. By dismantling that frame work, they are setting the stage for “labor war”.

  • Sheila Ebelein

    Great news! So happy to hear this!

  • lienjud

    congrats! when we fight, we win!

  • Edward Po

    A victory of sorts, but long lead in time. A national $15/hr minimum wage with COLA is required.

    • Andrew Keimig

      Minimum wage laws reduce employment and only help a small percentage of people living in poverty.

      • ushanellore

        Spoken like a true non minimum wage earner.

      • ushanellore

        By the way this myth not borne out. Every state but one that recently raised minimum wage actually saw a growth in employment since Jan 2014.

        • Andrew Keimig

          Source for this employment increase in states that increased the minimum wage?

          A recent CBO study estimates that a only 18% of the benefits from a national minimum wage increase to $10.10 would go to poor families. The majority of the benefits would go to families living well above the poverty level.

          About half of families living below the poverty level have no earners. We would be better off addressing the causes of this (disincentives to work, lack of job creation) than raising the minimum wage.

  • James Hunt

    Yes, a victory of sorts. Local hospitals are cutting and consolidating and wringing efficiencies out of technology wherever they can. Wages will increase slightly; overall head count will decline.

    • ushanellore

      We’re still waiting for SIRI to clean the floors and bag the dirty syringes. I hear she’s too snooty for the job and she wants 20 dollars an hour having been vested with human intelligence and human consciousness at MIT and having been cloned–her colony of robots won’t have none of Keimig’s macro economics, or yours or that of JHU’s for that matter.

      • Andrew Keimig

        Our view of macroeconomics happens to be supported by decades of peer reviewed research. Sadly, facts don’t seem to matter to many progressives these days.

      • James Hunt


        Here’s the “MS-DOS” version of floor cleaners …

        … and syringes that don’t need the special handling the “sharp” one’s do …

        Advancements are already in the pipeline.

        So, wages will rise and headcount will drop. By all means, the union should take a victory lap. The leaders should just be honest with those whose wages sustain the union that there may not be a job for them before too long.

        That might be why Hopkins makes a big deal out of offering education benefits.

    • kenninbmore

      $13 an hour by 2018 doesn’t look like much of a victory to me. $13/hr right now would be a victory. By 2018 it won’t look like much unless, gas prices, rent, BGE , etc are going to go down. I’m not holding my breath on that one

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