2,000 Caregivers Plan to Strike Johns Hopkins: America’s #1 Hospital Pays Low Wages

June 30, 2014

With a strike planned to begin on April 9, contract talks between 2,000 members of 1199SEIU and Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins hospital management are continuing without an agreement.Though Hopkins is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as America’s #1 hospital, many caregivers there rely on food stamps, Medicaid and other public assistance to supplement their low pay. Hopkins caregivers are seeking to establish a new Fair Wage standard at the world-renowned hospital.The union seeks to establish a $15 minimum wage for workers with at least 15 years experience over the life of its four-year contract. This is a significant compromise from the union’s original proposal, which called for every worker to get to $15 an hour within four years.“I work full-time at Hopkins but I had to take on an extra job just to pay my bills,” said Curtis Daniels, who works in patient transport and has worked at Hopkins for 12 years. “Every day at Hopkins I walk about six miles and I shouldn’t have to work another job after that.”The union’s Fair Wage plan would add less than $3 million to Hopkins’ payroll in the first year of the contract. Johns Hopkins Hospital made a $145 million profit on operating revenues of $1.9 billion in fiscal year 2013.Currently, almost 1,400 Hopkins caregivers make so little their pay falls below the $14.91-an-hour rate that qualifies a family of four for food stamps. More than 40 percent of Hopkins workers with at least 15 years of service make less than $14.91 an hour. Unfortunately, hospital management continues to make very little movement in negotiations. As of April 10, it was offering across-the-board raises of just 1.25 percent in each of the first two years of its proposed five-year contract.Hopkins management is also pushing misleading claims about the union’s Fair Wage plan. The hospital says the union is pushing for 40 percent raises. In fact, only 20 out of 2,000 members — or one percent of caregivers — would get a raise of 40 percent or more under the union plan. The median increase over the life of the union’s four-year proposal would be 18 percent.In recent bargaining, the hospital has begun to accept the union’s call that a higher minimum wage is needed at Hopkins. But management continues to set weak minimums that would do little for the many Hopkins workers forced to rely on food stamps and Medicaid.The latest management proposal would establish a minimum wage of $13 an hour in the first year of the agreement, but only for workers with at least 15 years of service. The vast majority of Hopkins workers have been at Hopkins for less than 15 years.Only a tiny number of Hopkins workers would be helped by the new minimum wage proposed by Hopkins. In fact, just 29 workers out of 2,000 at Hopkins have 15 years of experience and make less than $13 an hour.The union has initiated a public push for fair wages at Hopkins with the website hardshipathopkins.org, social media and online ads with The Baltimore Sun.- See more at: http://www.1199seiu.org/2_000_caregivers_plan_to_strike_johns_hopkins_america_s_1_hospital_pays_low_wages#sthash.ugNx09iX.dpuf