Hopkins executives recently staged a feel-good town hall meeting to tout the hospital’s wellness and diversity initiatives.
But the execs started looking a little sick when they saw dozens of Hopkins workers, doctors, and medical students show up at the June 17th town hall wearing purple 1199SEIU t-shirts and buttons.
Even Hopkins Senior VP for Human Resources Pamela Paulk briefly made reference to all the “purple t-shirts.”
The meeting was supposed to focus on the hospital’s efforts to reward healthy behaviors for staff and associates. But Paulk and other executives spent much of the hour chatting about themselves and their own personal fitness routines—and spent little time fielding questions from the audience.
Hopkins promised an “interactive meeting format,” but 1199 bargaining committee member Linda Speed was appalled when administrators left time to respond to only two audience questions.
Speed asked Paulk to explain a departmental restructuring plan that is causing concern among environmental service workers. “But she really didn’t answer my question,” Speed said. “And then the meeting was over.”
“It was a dog and pony show,” said 1199 organizer Carrietta Hiers. “This was an excuse for management to pat themselves on the back about all the ‘good’ they’re supposedly doing. But it wasn’t about workers at all.”
Hopkins doctor Richard Bruno was disappointed that Hopkins management avoided a meaningful discussion about lifting wages to invest in worker health and well-being. Instead, hospital officials touted their proprietary “Wellnet” portal, and recommended pricey fitness products that “are out of reach for most people.”
“When people can’t support their families, they can’t be healthy,” said Dr. Bruno. “How is the administration saying they are rewarding healthy lifestyles if they aren’t giving people a living wage?”
As medical student Max Romano tweeted, “I’m at the @hopkinsmedicine town hall and hoping they’ll talk about @hardshiphopkins in addition to our CEO’s exercise routine.”