JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs

March 15, 2001
MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Stephenson
PHONE: (410) 955-5384
E-MAIL: gstephenson@jhmi.edu

Strike Update

Once again, leaders of District 1199E-DC/ Service Employees International Union have ordered a one-day strike at The Johns Hopkins Hospital beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, March 15 and ending at 12:01 a.m. Friday, March 16. We regret that the Union has chosen to again protract contract negotiations, and to keep us at an impasse, with no end in sight for its 1600 members, almost all of whom are in service and maintenance jobs.

While Hopkins remains committed to resolving management/labor issues at the bargaining table, the institution is fully prepared to operate all essential services during the strike. None of SEIU’s members are physicians, nurses or others involved in direct patient care. Although we can reassure patients and visitors that patient care will not be compromised, we are keenly aware that a hospitalization is an important event in someone’s life, whether they are here for the joy of a birth or because they are ill and vulnerable. A strike, even for one day, is never experienced positively by those who come to us for care.

To accommodate press coverage while assuring minimum disruption to our patients and visitors during the strike, Public Affairs staff will operate a Press Center in the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center, Room 2140, beginning at 8 a.m. March 15. All on-site press requests for information, official statements and updates will be handled by Public Affairs staff in the Center. Public Affairs staff will also be available by telephone at their regular office number, 410-955-6680, during business hours. On-call personnel will be reachable through regular channels after business hours.

Attached to this Advisory is a text of a letter recently sent to community leaders and others reaffirming our view of SEIU’s tactics, outlining our most recent offers to the Union leadership, and explaining why Hopkins believes it is a responsible and fair employer.

We have an offer on the table to raise salaries 3 percent per year for three years (9 percent over the life of the contract), an offer that is above the Baltimore City living wage rate promised for July 1, 2001 ($8.03), would give the average Union worker $10.69 per hour and would give the highest skill level workers as much as $20.25 per hour. Our offer also features a retirement plan that gives someone retiring at age 65 with 35 years of service income replacement (with Social Security benefits) at about 85 percent of his or her highest average five year earnings. Because our workers are already three months overdue for their annual raises, the Hospital has also offered to give the first year raise immediately while continuing to negotiate all other aspects of our proposal. The Union has rejected this offer.

A fact sheet about the Collective Bargaining Agreement and further background are available on request by fax or e_mail and on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website at www.hopkinsmedicine.org.

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Dear HEBCAC Board Members:

Your concern for Baltimore City and dedication to its well-being has been an inspiration. Because The Johns Hopkins Hospital is a committed anchor institution in the community and a primary employer to many who live here, I want to be sure you understand our perspective on the unusual circumstances confronting us in current labor negotiations with 1199E, SEIU, the Union representing our service and maintenance workers.

By now you are aware that we are in protracted contract negotiations. We do not see an end in sight. The Union is supposedly fighting for higher wages and benefits, but we firmly believe that its real agenda is a national campaign to access more workers. While our differences continue, the most important concern is that our workers are treated fairly. Let me highlight why we think Hopkins is a good employer:

We have an offer on the table to raise salaries 3% per year for three years (9% over the life of the contract) and to raise the lowest pay rates to $8.20 an hour for probationary workers, $8.45 after probation and $8.70 after one year. Since these negotiations have extended and our workers are three months overdue for their annual raises, the Hospital offered to give the first year 3% raise immediately and to continue to negotiate all proposals. The union rejected this offer.

The Union encompasses many job classifications and skill levels, all of whom will benefit from this wage offer. Under the Hospital's proposal the average Union worker will make $10.69 per hour and the highest wage rate will be $20.25 per hour.

Our retirement plan provides excellent benefits for long-term workers. For example, the typical Union worker retiring at age 65 with 35 years of service could have income replaced (with Social Security benefits) at about 85% of the highest average 5 years earnings.

We have extensive training programs to allow workers to move from entry-level jobs into more skilled professions. For example, there is an AA degree program in general studies offered on our campus and the opportunity to take training courses at many community colleges throughout the city. Tuition payments for these programs are fully paid in advance by the Hospital. Among career training opportunities available at no cost to employees are a surgical tech training program and a high school diploma equivalency program.

Hopkins has been a stable employer. Thankfully, we have managed to have no major layoffs in the last few years. The number of Union jobs rose from approximately 1,400 represented employees in December 1997 to more than 1,600 represented employees in December 2000.

Hopkins remains committed to the City of Baltimore and especially the community of East Baltimore. A stable and economically enhanced community is a healthy environment for our patients, our employees as well as the residents of East Baltimore.

Please know that we believe The Johns Hopkins Hospital has made a fair offer for its workers, while limited by the constraints in a state with highly regulated hospital rates – and no restraints on many escalating costs. I have enclosed a copy of a column exploring this dilemma more fully; it was recently written for the Washington Post by William R. Brody, President of The Johns Hopkins University. We all have a vested interest in maintaining an economically viable job market for both employers and employees in Maryland. It is my sincere hope that the State will recognize the problems hospitals are facing in this regard.

Thank you for your continued support. I understand and appreciate your concerns about the people of Baltimore – and continue the commitment to meet our workers’ needs. If you would like more details about specifics of negotiations, please call Pamela Paulk, Vice President of Human Resources, 410-955-8600.

Sincerely,

Ronald R. Peterson

 


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