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Hopkins Workers Rallying For Better Pay Bring Star Power To Baltimore

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The battle heats up between 2,000 service workers and administrators at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Some union workers say they’re living in poverty while the hospital makes millions.

They brought in some Hollywood stars to make their point.

Mike Hellgren has the hospital’s response.

It all boils down to the bottomline. The hospital says it appreciates its workers and it already pays them well above the minimum wage. The workers say it’s far from enough.

“This is a first rate hospital, you get first rate care, but we don’t get first rate pay,” said Anne Henry, an employee at Hopkins for 45 years.

A union representing 2,000 service workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital rallied, demanding better pay. Some say they rely on food stamps and live in poverty.

“Wages at Hopkins have been too low for too long. We have employees that have given 15-plus years to Hopkins and don’t even make $15 an hour,” said Michelle Horton, an employee at Hopkins for nine years.

Movie star Danny Glover and The Wire’s Wendell Pierce spoke passionately to the crowd.

“You can pay these employees a living wage at the greatest hospital in the world–at the greatest hospital in the world that you created,” Pierce said.

“This is a call to action,” Glover added. “We’re telling the administration at Johns Hopkins Hospital to get in that negotiating room.”

“We are looking forward to being back at the table,” said Pamela Paulk, Senior V.P. of Human Resources, Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Paulk says wages for the workers, including surgical techs, cooks and housekeepers, are already much higher than the minimum wage increase that Maryland lawmakers just approved.

“It is our people that’s made Hopkins number one,” she said. “And as a result, we have looked at our wages and our benefits to provide something that we believe will allow people to build a career here at Hopkins.”

Employees went on strike for three days last month. Right now, there’s no deal in sight.

“Johns Hopkins is number one in everything but the wages,” said Henry.

The low-rung wages for workers right now are starting at $10.71 an hour. Some make close to $28 an hour. Hopkins is proposing a five-year contract with no more than a two percent raise.

The union wants every one of its workers earning at least $14 an hour by the end of any new contract the sides hammer out.

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