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Johns Hopkins hospital workers call off Baltimore strike

(Reuters) - A strike over wages by 2,000 Johns Hopkins Hospital service employees in Baltimore was averted on Friday after intervention by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.

The Democratic governor asked the hospital and the workers' union to take a weeklong cooling-off period after four months of talks ended in a stalemate.

The 1199 Service Employees International Union "has agreed not to strike at this time - I appreciate both sides' willingness to continue negotiating in good faith," O'Malley said in a statement.

The four-day strike would have been the second in two months for the union, which struck for three days in April.

The union, which describes the current pay rate as "poverty wages," is seeking a $15-an-hour minimum wage for service workers with at least 15 years of experience. Workers now start at $10.71 to $27.88 an hour, according to union figures.

Hopkins officials said they would like to reach an agreement with the union workers.

"We are hopeful that both parties will be back at the bargaining table soon and an agreement can be reached," the hospital said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson)

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