Hopkins dome

Hypocrisy at Hopkins

“The mission of Johns Hopkins Medicine is to improve the health of the community.” That’s the first line of the Hopkins mission statement. And yet Hopkins pays its own employees so poorly that many rely on Medicaid and food stamps.

Nearly 70 percent of Hopkins caregivers make less than $14.92 an hour, the wage that qualifies a single parent and child for food stamps. Starting pay at Hopkins is as low as $10.71 an hour.

Because the Johns Hopkins Health System is Baltimore’s second largest employer, its low wages are dragging down standards for workers all across our city.

Hopkins caregivers are seeking to establish a $15-an-hour Fair Wage minimum. Currently, nearly half of Hopkins caregivers with more than 15 years experience make less than $15 an hour.

As of April 8, the day before caregivers launched a three-day strike for fairness, Hopkins management had refused to raise the hospital’s minimum wage above $12.25 an hour, even by the year 2018. And they proposed across-the-board raises averaging less than 2 percent a year over a proposed five-year contract.

Hopkins officials have suggested in negotiations that the uncertainty of healthcare reform makes it unwise to do more. And yet at least six Hopkins-affiliated officials sit on state workgroups that have helped craft and implement Maryland’s reform plan.

In ongoing contract talks, Hopkins management has said it cannot be too generous with pay as the hospital must weigh the “responsibilities” it has to billionaire donors like Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Zayed’s father and Bloomberg’s mother are the namesakes of the two new Hopkins towers that cost $1.1 billion to construct.

By contrast, the $15 Fair Wage plan — which also includes fair raises for workers above $15 an hour — would add less than $3 million to the hospital’s payroll in the first year of the contract, according to calculations by 1199SEIU.