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Johns Hopkins University Moving Forward with Union Layoffs During Pandemic

Baltimore, Md. (February 9, 2021)- As the pandemic continues, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is also continuing its proposal to lay off 35 employees at the JHU School of Medicine.

The 35 employees are members of LIUNA Public Service Employees Local 572 (Local 572) and are part of an approximately 600-person collective bargaining unit of maintenance workers such as janitors and tradesmen as well as lab technicians and animal caretakers.

Local 572 is posting flyers and driving a video billboard truck around JHU and Johns Hopkins Hospital. The message calls on JHU to stop the greed and the layoffs using an eye-opening comparison between the average hourly wage of the employees and the compensation of some of JHU’s leadership including President Ronald Daniels, which is $20 to over $2.8 million respectively.

“Johns Hopkins’ executives are already living comfortably,” said Tiha Richardson, Local 572 Field Representative. “A little bit more in their paychecks wouldn’t make much of a difference, but to these workers who would lose their jobs, it would be devastating.”

JHU and Local 572 are currently negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. The previous contract expired in December 2020. Local 572 first requested negotiations with JHU in July 2020 but did not receive a contract proposal from JHU until November 2020 which included the 35 layoffs.

The layoffs would go into effect on March 1, 2021. Rather than eliminate these positions, JHU plans to bring in outside contractors to replace the Local 572 employees.

“There is no justification to lay off employees in the middle of a pandemic when Johns Hopkins can afford it,” said Richardson. “Johns Hopkins is known for saving lives with its research but Johns Hopkins would also be known for ruining lives if it stands by this proposal.”

Workers are prepared to strike if JHU refuses to drop the layoffs from its proposal this month.

“It may be 35 employees today, but the entire bargaining unit is left wondering if they will be next,” continued Richardson. “Many of these employees have worked here for a long time – some for over 30 years – and that’s not something that you give up without a fight.”

Affiliated with the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), LIUNA Public Service Employees Local 572 represents over 3,000 public employees and service contract employees in Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina.