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Employees Wrap Up 3-Day Strike Outside Johns Hopkins Hospital

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Thousands of employees at Johns Hopkins Hospital are wrapping up their three-day strike. They say they're making poverty level wages while the hospital thrives and continues to expand.

Derek Valcourt has more.

The strike officially ended at 6 p.m., meaning anyone who is scheduled to be working the night shift is now back on the job.

For three days, they've been calling on the hospital to raise the wages of some 2,000 employees who work in the kitchens, the laundries, the maintenance and cleaning crews.

People like Simone Hicks, who say, despite her full-time job at the best hospital in the country, she and most everyone there needs food stamps and other public assistance to get by.

"I'm making $10.98, that's below the poverty line. That's ridiculous and it's not fair," Hicks said.

"Everybody out here is struggling. Hopkins can build billion dollar buildings, but they can't take care of their employees," said Wiley Rhymer, Hopkins employee.

A father of four, Rhymer is among the hundreds taking three days without pay to make their point.

"These workers were like a dirty little secret, and the secret is out. They are not making a livable wage. Shame on you for not paying them a livable wage," said union representative Carriette Hiers.

The union voted to strike on Tuesday after negotiations took a turn when the hospital made their last, final and best offer, falling far short of the union's wage demands.

"Out of respect for our employees and the bargaining process, we will take those issues to the table and bargain there and not in public," said Bonnie Windsor, Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The hospital says it has a finite pool of money and needs to balance pay with job preservation.

They point out they offer benefits like career training and college tuition to employees who hope for higher paying jobs and they insist, despite the strike, it's business as usual inside.

"If you walked into the hospital, you would not even know that there is a strike going on," Windsor said.

Employees say that's a blatant lie. Meanwhile, the hospital has posted signs outside calling for some quiet.

Because the strike was short-lived and employees are expected to be back on the job Friday night, it's unclear what advantage the union has gained until they get back to the negotiation table. That's expected to happen next week.

When the striking employees do return to their jobs, they will be working without a union contract.

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