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No agreement in contract talks at Hopkins Hospital

Johns Hopkins Hospital and the labor union that represents 2,000 service workers ended contract talks without an agreement Tuesday night, despite intervention by the governor.

The talks were the first since members of the 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East labor union called off a four-day strike last week after Gov. Martin O'Malley asked the two sides to take a one-week cooling-off period.


No new bargaining date has been scheduled, but neither side has said it will suspend negotiations.

"We remain hopeful, and it's up to the parties to reach a positive resolution," O'Malley's office said in a statement.


The two sides disagree mostly on wage increases.

The union, which represents janitors, housekeepers and other service workers, has sought a $15 minimum wage for workers with at least 15 years of experience in the second year of a proposed four-year contract. Workers now start at $10.71 to $27.88 per hour, depending on their jobs, and the union proposed that every Hopkins worker earn at least $14 an hour by the end of the contract.

The union said in a statement released after Tuesday's negotiations ended that Hopkins offered an across-the-board raise of about 1.5 percent in the first year of its proposed contract. The proposal would add an average of less than $3 million a year to Hopkins' payroll costs, the union said.

Union officials declined to provide further details about Tuesday's bargaining, including any concessions they might have made, because of the cooling-off period that ends Friday.

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A Hopkins official said it presented union representatives with what it thought was a fair counterproposal and asked them to present it to members for a vote.

The proposal includes raises between 9.5 percent and 17.6 percent over 41/2 years, said Bonnie Windsor, the hospital's vice president of human resources. Lower-wage workers would get a raise of 3.9 percent on average each year, Windsor said. More senior workers would get the $15-an-hour wage in the first year, she said.

"I think we're not completely on the same page yet, but I know that I think we are about as close as we are going to get," Windsor said. "We're hoping that they're going to wake up and realize what a great deal is on the table."

Neither the governor nor his administration is taking an active role in the talks, his spokeswoman has said. But analysts said his intervention could push both sides to work harder to reach a compromise. O'Malley staff members declined to talk about why he intervened, other than to say it was in the best interest of the state.


The strike that had been set to start last Friday would have been the second one in the dispute. Workers walked off the job for three days in late April after negotiations broke down. Talks began in March and have continued intermittently.