BALTIMORE (AP) — After months of negotiations Johns Hopkins Hospital reached a tentative labor agreement Tuesday with a union representing about 2,000 workers at the medical institution.
The agreement calls for a $15 hourly minimum wage for workers with at least 20 years of service effective immediately, and $14.50 for those who have worked for the institution for at least 15 years in 2015.
A Hopkins spokeswoman said Tuesday that a union vote will take place over the next couple of days on the tentative agreement.
The union has been in negotiations with the hospital since March and staged a strike in April after rejecting Hopkins' offer of a $12 hourly minimum wage.
The union called off another planned strike last month after Gov. Martin O'Malley intervened and asked for a cooling off period.
The minimum wage for first-year workers is presently $10.71. Under the agreement, new employees will earn $12.60 per hour beginning in 2018.
In a statement O'Malley said the agreement is positive for Johns Hopkins and its employees.
"It's also good for all Marylanders," O'Malley said in the statement, "because when workers earn more money, businesses have more customers and our economy grows."
Jim McNeil, a spokesman for union, said bargaining began Monday evening at around 5 p.m. and lasted until 2 a.m. McNeil called the agreement "an impressive package."
"This is a really impressive step forward that workers at Hopkins have taken," McNeil said. "It's a dramatic lifting of the floor for workers who have been stuck for so long. For new workers, it opens up possibilities for the future."
The vote to recommend the proposal was unanimous among the bargaining committee, McNeil said, adding that because Johns Hopkins is the second largest employer in Baltimore, an increase doesn't just set the standard for workers at the medical institution, "it sets the standard for the city."
Michelle Horton, 28, has worked in the kitchen at Johns Hopkins for nine years making $11.35 an hour, and shares a two-bedroom apartment with her mother and three children. Under the agreement, Horton said her hourly wage will increase to $13.75 in two years.
"It's going to make things much easier," Horton said, "just knowing that I have money to cover basic needs and a little extra to take my kids to a movie or something of that nature, and not have to worry that if I take them to a movie, the lights may not be on tomorrow."