Feb 5, 2001
On January 31, about 2000 workers walked off their jobs at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Greater Baltimore Medical Center and Sinai Hospital. They picketed for a while and then gathered downtown, where they were joined by other hospital workers from other East coast cities for a rally and march to Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
The one-day strike was organized by Local 1199E-DC of the SEIU (Service Employees International Union), which has been negotiating for a new contract. The old one expired in December.
The action shone a light on some of the serious problems facing workers at these hospitals –and others. Short-staffing has thrown excessive amounts of work onto each worker's back. In many cases this endangers the lives of patients. Excessive overtime and constant transfers into unfamiliar areas reflect the short-staffing.
Finally, some hospital workers are being paid wretchedly low wages, and most workers' wages have barely kept up with inflation, or worse. At Johns Hopkins, for example, the lowest-paid workers get only $7.52 an hour –before taxes and other deductions.
Johns Hopkins is one of the richest and most important hospitals in the country. Regardless of what it claims, it has the money to bring its workers out of poverty, and to protect everyone's wages from inflation.