Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against “Poverty Wages”

Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against “Poverty Wages”


JAISAL NOOR: So I’m here at Johns Hopkins
campus in Mount Washington in Baltimore. We just spoke to some workers a few moments ago.
We’ll tell you what they said. I just wanted to say we were escorted off this campus by
Hopkins security, even though other media were allowed to film here earlier today. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which
represents the 2,000 Hopkins employees, says the starting wage is $10.71, and 1,400 people
are paid less than $14.91 an hour. The Baltimore Brew reports this wage “qualifies a family
of four for food stamps.” The hospital did not respond to our interview
request, but told other media outlets in a statement, quote, “We are negotiating in good
faith, working to reach a settlement that’s fair to everyone and reflects financial responsibility
on the part of the hospital.” (Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe) NOOR: What’s your response? Do you feel like
you get paid fairly for what you do? CURTIS DANIELS: No, I do not feel like I’m
getting paid fairly. If I was getting paid fairly, then I wouldn’t have to work two jobs.
One job just pays the rent and everything that comes along with the household, and the
other job is just so I can put gas in the care and do the other little things, you know,
market and everything else. So, no, I’m not getting paid fairly, and no, this doesn’t
pay the bills. NOOR: Are you willing to go on strike to get
your demands met? DANIELS: I don’t want to go on strike, but
I’ll do what’s necessary to get what we need. NOOR: So going on strike is a big sacrifice,
’cause you’re not getting paid. So what would that mean to you if you went on strike and
you weren’t getting money and, you know, if you weren’t getting paid from this job at
Hopkins? How would that impact you? DANIELS: Well, it’ll impact me a lot. But
sometimes you have to sacrifice in order to get where you need to be. You know. And if
I don’t do this, what am I going to do? I’m nowhere now. So, you know, a strike is necessary.
Like I said, it’s not–it’s something that none of the union employees want to do, but
we’ll have to do what we have to do. MELVINNA ALFORD: I’ve been there for 15 years,
and I make under $13 an hour. So I just want them to show me where–if you’ve been there
for 15 years, you should be making a little under or over $13 an hour. I feel like I’ve earned it and other employees
have earned it. And I feel like if they can find money to do other things for Hopkins,
they can find money for the employees also. NOOR: So negotiations broke down, and the
workers say they’re willing to go on strike. Talk about why you’re willing to go on strike
and what you’re fighting for. ALFORD: Right now we don’t really want to
go on strike. But we have to look out for our other employees at the hospital. We’re
fighting for fair wages for all Hopkins employees. I have three children. I have a 14-year-old,
I have a 16-year-old, and I have a six-year-old stepson. I make a little over $13 an hour. Right now
I can’t even afford to put my children on my Hopkins insurance. I have to get medical
assistance from the state. And right now I’m living paycheck to paycheck, basically. NOOR: And so what kind of impact does that–so
talk about how that affects your life, like, on a day-to-day basis. ALFORD: I really don’t have much money to
do what I want to do, and I feel like we earn what we’re asking for, we earn not to live
paycheck to paycheck and try to find a way to pay our bills and other things that’s going
on, plus take care of our home and our children. NOOR: Some experts say that if you do go on
strike, it would be easy for them to replace you guys, and Hopkins has said they’re prepared
for a strike and, you know, there wouldn’t be, like, a work stoppage. What’s your response
to that? ALFORD: I’m pretty sure they are prepared
for a strike. I’m pretty sure that they’re taking non-union workers and putting them
in their old spot, and I believe that they don’t believe that we’re striking for more
than one day. They might not feel it the first day, but the next day after that and the next
day after that they will feel it, because they can’t do what they’re paying us to do.
We’ve been trained to do what we do. We’re good at what we do. NOOR: Where do the Hopkins workers fit in?
Because there’s been a national call to raise the minimum wage. We’ve seen fast food workers
go on strike around the country demanding $15 an hour. President Obama’s called for
a $10.10 minimum wage, which is less than what you’re already making. But do you see–and
so talk about what your demands are and how Hopkins workers fit into the national picture
of people that are getting paid low wages demanding more money. DANIELS: Well, you know, Hopkins workers are–we’re
low-paid. And that’s just the natural truth of the situation. And if we were getting paid,
you know, equal wages, then we wouldn’t be out here. And, you know, it’s just sad that
we have to be this way. And we’re low, we’re low-paid. Great hospital, low-paid employees.
And that’s just the way it is. NOOR: And what’s your message to the leadership
at Johns Hopkins today? DANIELS: We need fair wages. And they know
that. And, you know, if we give them fair work, we deserve fair wages. NOOR: The Real News will keep following developments
in this story. With Mark Provost, this is Jaisal Noor in
Baltimore.

9 thoughts on “Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against “Poverty Wages”

  1. That's another thing, my settlement has been approved and considered fair and reasonable!! I told you its all been worked out, all of it

  2. When american's realize they have nothing left to lose every thing will change
    When they get it we can and will have a all out revolution!

  3. Suggestion to workers at Johns Hopkins.. send out delegates to other large workplaces in the area.. related and unrelated industries..

    Talk to workers and ask for support.. anything from asking them to do a strike collection for you,. to asking them to send delegates to support your picket line..

    Get people to bring a union or workplace banner..  or book a bus together for larger demonstrations when required. 
     Just ask for union reps or people who might be friendly.. workers know each other and will usually get you an audience with someone who will give out your flyers and chat etc.,

     Sent two or three people together for confidence etc.. be prepared to do a short talk about what's happening., make it a priority to talk to regular rank and file workers..
    talking to union leaderships is less useful.. although some union brass can be excellent too (after years of defeats, they tend to be overly conservative and scared.. building rank and file puts pressure on them to act confidently again).

     And be sure to report back so everybody knows what's going on.
    Keeping everything democratic is a key to not being sold out with shitty deals.
    And getting a deal people genuinely agree to too.
     Fuck political dogmas.. get a victory for the workers.. that is genuine left politics; a balance USA sorely needs.. so The People's interests can begin being represented again.

    Know from the start that you can lose.. keep that in mind.. become more strategic and understand that you are building a way to win..
     a stronger and more conscious fight back, that draws the many together.
    it's like the anti war movement.. it did not stop the Iraq war.. but it's legacy is that USA has limited it's warmongering since and did not invade Syria.
     But also remember that you can win.. by building a large, confident and informed democratic actions together.
    The Workers united, cannot be defeated.
    Solidarity from UK.

  4. The University of Kansas Hospital Nurses Union (KUNA) are going through some rough negotiations as well, fyi. I know that you guys are focused on Baltimore (and props to you for that).

  5. I'm glad to see Unions finally rising up again after decades of increase in productivity and output but stagnation in wages. 
    As Marx said: Workers of the World Unite!

  6. Isn't Johns Hopkins supposed to be one of the best hospitals in the worlds? That's fucking absurd they're paying so low.

  7. big surprise….isn't this the same 'hospital' buying up property in the area…using public tax meney….and booting out local poor residents in the process….thus turning it over to private interests to make a profit…..welfare scam in other words. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *