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Wage negotiations continue between Hopkins, union

About 2,000 service and maintenance workers seeking raises have yet to come to an agreement with Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The workers, who are members of labor union 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, have threatened to strike beginning April 9 if the hospital does not agree to a wage increase of as much as 40 percent for some employees, though most would get more modest raises.

The starting salary of the workers represented by the union ranges from $10.71 to $27.88 per hour, depending on the job, according to Hopkins officials. Union leaders requested the increase because they said many of the workers rely on government assistance programs such as food stamps and Medicaid to support their families.

Talks between the two sides will continue Thursday, union leaders said. The existing contract expired Monday. The employees, who include housekeepers and those who deliver food, will continue working under the terms of that contract as long as negotiations continue.

A Hopkins spokeswoman said Tuesday that officials "are negotiating with union representatives in good faith and are working to reach a settlement that's fair to everyone and reflects financial responsibility on the part of the hospital. Out of respect for our employees and their labor union, we are negotiating directly with them and not through the media."

The union initially pushed for a $15 an hour living wage for all workers with four years of service. Hopkins has suggested a 1 percent raise in each of the first two years of a proposed five-year contract and a minimum starting salary of $12 an hour for all workers in their fifth year, members of the union's bargaining committee said.

In bargaining Monday night, the union said it proposed that every worker with 15 or more years of service be raised to $15 an hour or above by the end of the first year of a new four-year contract. Increases to minimum wages of a lesser amount would be phased in over the four years for workers with one or more years of service.

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/ankwalker

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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