- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

BALTIMORE (AP) - Members of a union representing 2,000 workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital approved a labor contract Friday after months of contentious negotiations.

Ninety-three percent of the membership voted over two days in favor of ratifying the proposed 4½-year contract, which calls for minimum wage increases for environmental-services, kitchen and maintenance workers, according to a union statement.

Under the agreement, workers with 20 years of experience will earn at least $15 an hour, effective immediately. Workers with 15 years of experience will earn $14.50 an hour by 2015, and all current workers will make at least $13 an hour by 2018. The union, the 1199 affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, says the raises at Baltimore’s largest health care employer will set a standard for other workers in the city.

Negotiations began in March, and the union went on strike for three days in April after rejecting the hospital’s offer of a $12 minimum wage.

The union threatened a further four-day strike in late June, but both sides heeded Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s request for a weeklong cooling-off period and the parties reached an agreement Tuesday.

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