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Hopkins Caregivers Vow To Strike Again For Higher Wages

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Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—No more poverty pay. The fight for higher wages continues at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where caregivers say they can barely afford their homes or put food on the table. Now they are giving the hospital one more chance before they strike again.

Rochelle Ritchie has the details.

These workers are not backing down. The petition, hand delivered to the president of the hospital, has the signatures of 500 people–including doctors, med students and health students. The petitioners say unless their demands are met, they will strike again on Friday.

Johns Hopkins Hospital could once again find itself as the backdrop of a major protest if Hopkins caregivers do not see their wages increased.

“I can’t continue to keep struggling raising kids when I am working for Hopkins,” one woman said.

While the seasons have changed since the last strike, the demands remain the same and another heated protest is brewing.

“The pay is too low,” one worker said.

“Don’t give us anything. Just pay us a livable wage,” said Carrietta Hiers, union representative.

On the table now: a four-year, $12 million contract that would increase the caregivers’ pay to a minimum of $15 an hour for workers with 15 years of experience, and $14 for one year of experience by 2018. Right now Hopkins is offering a minimum of $12.25 per hour. That’s less than a 2 percent raise.

Hopkins told WJZ previously they do offer wonderful benefits for their employees, but the union says it only counts if they can afford it.

“Hopkins does offer a health benefit package, but if you’re not making enough money then you can’t afford to pay the premium for that health care package,” a union representative said.

The petition handed to hospital president Ronald Peterson has not only the signature of Hopkins caregivers but also public health professionals and doctors.

“Poverty exacerbates poor health,” one woman said.

“When we are not able to pay our workers a fair living wage then it’s sort of demeaning to our team members,” said Dr. Richard Bruno, physician.

The union says if their demands are not met, they will strike again day and night–even though the last strike did not cause Hopkins to even budge.

“We froze the health care cost; we put money into the training funds,” said Bonnie Windsor, Johns Hopkins Hospital. “Our salaries are currently very competitive, and they will continue to be competitive in the Baltimore market.”

The workers could strike as early as Friday.

If the employees do strike, it could last up to four days.

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