A nonprofit that serves more than a half-dozen Southwest Baltimore neighborhoods is transforming the scope of its work with the launch of a new workforce development program.
In the first of many expected moves by President Donald Trump to “drain the swamp” in Washington, the man in the Oval Office yesterday signed an executive order to freeze hiring for civilian positions in the federal government.
Baltimore City would benefit greatly from programs that teach new skills to people who just got out of prison and create incentives for employers to hire them, according to a new report from a local business group.
This fall, a group of Baltimore-area hospitals announced that it would help combat inequality and unemployment in the city by hiring 1,000 new entry-level workers from the city’s most struggling neighborhoods. The plan was widely acclaimed, and seemed like a no-brainer in some ways: the city’s largest private industry bridging the gap with Baltimore’s disadvantaged populations.
One of the engines of the unrest that rocked Baltimore earlier this year was the economic despair and high unemployment in some Baltimore neighborhoods. In Sandtown-Winchester, Freddie Gray’s neighborhood, the unemployment rate is double that of the city as a whole–and the city itself already has an unemployment rate much higher than the national average.
A new initiative spurred by Baltimore-area hospitals is hoping to change some of these alarming statistics by hiring 1,000 entry-level workers for hospital jobs, the Baltimore Sun reports.
On Saturday, actor and activist Danny Glover was in Baltimore to join 2,000 Johns Hopkins service workers in demanding the hospital increase the employees’ “poverty pay” — which the union says requires many workers to rely on government assistance to make ends meet.
In Glover’s impassioned address to the crowd gathered McKeldin Square, he said the campaign is “a call to action”
and demanded that Hopkins administrators “get in that negotiating room.” (Also on hand, Wire actor Wendell Pierce had a more bumper sticker-ready slogan: “You can pay these employees a living wage at the greatest hospital in the world.”)
Johns Hopkins’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources Pamela Paulk replied to the media that administrators “are looking forward to being back at the table,” and according to the hospital’s blog, they’re just waiting for the union to take a break from its “media campaign” to continue good-faith negotiations.
According to Micaadjuncts.org — and a friend of mine on Facebook — adjunct professors at Maryland Institute College of Art voted in favor of forming a union yesterday, making them the first at a four-year institution in the state to do so.
The petition to unionize was filed on March 7 by the Service Employees Internation Union. On March 19, MICA president Fred Lazarus sent a memo around to “members of the MICA community” warning adjuncts that the decision to unionize “is a critical decision that will impact the entire College” and that the “busiest [period] of the year” is the wrong time to decide. He advised adjuncts to “vote against unionization at this time” and bring it back up next year. (I can only he assume he gave a big wink after writing that.)
Johns Hopkins Hospital’s service, maintenance, and technical employees went on strike at 6 a.m. and said they will picket around the clock until 6 p.m. Friday to push for hourly wages of at least $14 by the end of a four-year contract and $15 in the first year of a contract for a worker with 15 years of experience.
Union spokesperson Jim McNeill said the workers strike was authorized after the hospital’s “last, best, final” offer of $12.25 or less by the end of a four-year contract was rejected for being “so weak.” The union claims that “40 percent of Hopkins workers with at least 15 years of service make less than $14.92 an hour.” In other words, they qualify for food stamps.
Though it may not always look like it, in some ways the economy is recovering. Given the amount of money currently in Maryland’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund relative to how much is needed to pay out unemployment claims, about half of all employers in the state will see a significant reduction in their unemployment insurance tax rate. According to the Sun, “a top-rated employer with 100 workers that paid $18,700 in 2012 will pay $2,550 in 2014.”
This puts Maryland’s unemployment tax right up there (right down there?) with among the lowest rates in the country. That’s after three years (starting in 2010) of paying the some of the highest, when unemployment claims were many and the coffers were strained.