Hopkins & Local 491
Hospital Wage Hike Indicated
News Post Editorial (September 22, 1959)
Refusal of the Johns Hopkins Hospital management to
recognize an AFL-CIO unit as bargaining representative of some 1,100 of
its nonprofessional employes is fully understandable.
Direction by any collective outside influence in so
vital an area as services to the sick and injured opens undesirable
This despite the union's assertion of the willingness
of workers to enter into a binding agreement never to disrupt work
But the hospital's statement that average pay of
those in the group is 90 cents an hour and that 85 of them are getting
the beginning wage of 75 cents an hour attracts notice. It cites fringe
benefits it values at between 6 1/2 and 15 1/2 cents an hour.
The hospital says the scale "compares
favorably" with the pay of those in similar occupations. It gives
no figures in substantiation and none readily are available.
We hope the comparison is erroneous, for the
hospital's scale does not indicate even near adequate living wages. At
90 cents an hour for the 40-hour week the gross cash pay is $36. At 75
cents it is $30. Fringe benefits are valuable, but they do not provide
basic home necessities.
Modest pay increases were granted for the current
year. The fact that the hospital is operating at a deficit does not
mitigate the personal financial situation of the workers.
Perhaps a more substantial pay scale is indicated by
the hospital's own figures.
The dispute between Hopkins and Local 491 has thus
far been carried out by . . . Long Distance . . .through official and
rather barbed letters. In a situation that could drastically affect the
community, there has not yet been a personal meeting between the two
primary figures -- Dr. Russell A. Nelson, director of the hospital, and
Oliver W. Singleton, director of the AFL-CIO regional council. They have
never met, yet the strength of their wills--representing two vastly
different philosophies--may ultimately decide whether there is to be a
hospital strike in Baltimore.
A private, quiet meeting between these two
individuals--both intelligent men of integrity--would go far to clear
the air. A controversy of this magnitude needs at least mutual
understanding between opponents.