Having read Johns Hopkins Hospital President Ronald R. Peterson's recent commentary, it's easy to see why the institution is having problems striking a labor bargain with lower-level employees ("Balancing priorities and resources at Johns Hopkins," April 11).
Hopkins has always acted as if the employees should be grateful to work at a world-renowned hospital with world-class health leaders. Mr. Peterson clearly lacks sensitivity to such issues, but this insensitivity has been institutionalized over several generations.
The benefits cited by Mr Peterson are available to all full-time employees. The issue at hand is money. If Hopkins keeps its employees in poverty, it is unlikely that their children will work hard to prepare themselves for advanced studies.
Employees at Hopkins need to provide food and shelter for their families. Hopkins has a terrible reputation in this area. If the hospital's current administrators cannot develop a plan that improves the condition of employees they should be replaced by leaders who are capable of devising business models that don't rely on plantation economics and the exploitation of workers.
Hopkins administrators are failing in their responsibilities not only to their employees but to the citizens of Baltimore. One of the most absurd aspects of this debate is that Hopkins is trying to portray itself as an institution that can't afford to pay a decent salary to all its employees. Clearly it needs to improve its image as a major employer in the region.
I don't believe that the Hopkins public relations staff are succeeding in their defense of the institution because few people are buying what they are selling.
Edward McCarey McDonnell, Baltimore
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