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Baltimore hospital, workers reach tentative wage accord

(Reuters) - A tentative agreement has been reached between Johns Hopkins Hospital and 2,000 service employees threatening to strike over wages in Baltimore, a hospital spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The accord was reached late on Monday by a bargaining committee, said spokeswoman Kim Hoppe.

The 1199 Service Employees International Union had called the current pay rate "poverty wages" and had sought a $15-an-hour minimum wage for service workers with at least 15 years of experience.

Under the agreement, service workers, including maintenance and grounds crews and service technicians, at Hopkins will get a $15-an-hour minimum wage that will apply immediately to all employees with 20 years of service.

Workers with 15 years of service will make at least $14.50 in 2015. The union will vote on the accord on Thursday and Friday.

“Johns Hopkins Hospital sets the standard for healthcare in our city and that standard has just been raised,” said John Reid, the union's regional executive vice president.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley intervened last month after three months of talks stalled, asking both sides to take a weeklong cooling-off period to avert a strike over wages. The union struck for three days in April.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Bill Trot)