Henry Ford Health System announced Friday it will raise the minimum wage for most of its lowest-paid workers to $15 an hour.
The increase takes effect Sunday, and will boost the pay of more than 3,000 employees in at least 100 different types of benefits-eligible jobs, including food service workers, environmental services staff andnurse assistants, among others.
Michigan’s minimum wage is $9.65 an hour.
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The pay increase is expected to cost the health system about $6 million annually, and is part of a multi-phase plan that is expected to include a general increase for other employees later this year.
“Our core mission is to improve people’s lives,” said Henry Ford President and CEO Wright Lassiter III. “We know that across so many sectors of our country, where you have team members who have who have hourly wage levels that may not provide them with a sense of economic security and prosperity as we all would want for our own family members, loved ones, etc., that organization needs to think about stepping up to make that kind of investment in their team members.
“While we can’t assert that raising the wage to $15 as the minimum standard for all workers of all classes will eliminate every sense of financial instability for every single individual who’s impacted, we feel very comfortable that for the 3,000-plus folks who are impacted here, it will have a significant benefit to them in their lives.”
It was a move planned late last year but delayed by COVID-19, which sent many health systems across the state, including Henry Ford, financially reeling.
The health system, which includes six hospitals, temporarily furloughed 2,800 of its 33,000 workers in April, and saw millions of dollars in losses when all nonemergency and elective medical procedures were postponed in March and the state shut down most sectors of the economy to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Since then, Henry Ford has received more than $350 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to help cover $500 million in revenue losses, Lassiter said, and it has brought back all but 159 of its furloughed workers.
“That was significant support to help fill in the hole, but it didn’t fill the hole in completely,” he said. “Given both the combination of our CARES Act funding, and a lot of significant efforts that our management team did to help us curtail expenses during that period of time, we project to come in for the year relatively close to our forecasts or projections at the beginning of the year. We’ll still be a little bit shy of our forecasts, but it will certainly be cash positive and we will end up with a positive bottom line.”
The pay boost will help employees like Kenneth Douglas, 31, a valet at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. He will earn about $4,000 more per year when his hourly wage rises to $15 an hour.
“I’m trying to save everything so I can move out of my parents’ house,” said Douglas, who works a second job delivering pizza to make ends meet. That often means workdays that start at 6 a.m. and don’t end until 11:30 p.m.
So far in the pandemic, Douglas said, he’s managed to stay healthy and has avoided a coronavirus infection, but he knows the risks are there.
“It’s been hard for me and a lot of my fellow coworkers,” he said. “It’s been a struggle, you know, getting up, going to work and then realizing that we’re not even making all that much money and then I still have to sacrifice my life.”
All regular full-time, part-time and contingent employees earning less than $15 an hour will see the pay increase, though “a modest number of student, intern and temporary positions that are not considered regular, full-time, part-time or contingent positions” will not be eligible, said John Gillespie, director of news content and media relations for the health system.
Contact Kristen Jordan Shamus: [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Henry Ford Health System to raise minimum hourly wage to $15