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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.

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

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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