Henry Ford Health System will raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour for more than 3,000 employees, beginning Sunday, CEO Wright Lassiter III announced Friday.
Despite losing millions of dollars this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lassiter said the pay raise helps to fulfill Henry Ford's mission of improving lives and healing. The raise, which was considered back in 2019 but delayed when the pandemic hit in March, will tack on another $6 million in additional costs.
"We have a critical role to play in removing barriers to opportunity and achieving equity for all — and our team members are a crucial part of the communities we all serve," Lassiter said in a statement.
"There is a strong association between financial health and security and overall health, a reality that has been driven home over the last eight months for our team members who are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19," he said. "We are passionate about the need to do this and are thrilled to be able to make it happen, especially now."
The raise affects full-time, part-time and contingent employees not currently earning at least $15 per hour. It covers workers in environmental services associates, nurse assistants, food services assistants, health screeners and clinic services representatives, including 400 union members.
Some Henry Ford employees earn as little as $11 per hour, Lassiter said.
"We offer competitive wages, but we also focus on social justice and pay what the market bears for compensation," Lassiter said at a Friday news conference. "We believe (the raise) will have a positive impact in terms of stress. Many frontline workers work more than one job to make ends meet. ... Health care workers have done a yeoman's job in addressing the pandemic and we believe it can have a positive impact on morale."
Henry Ford also plans a general wage increase later this year and other pay adjustments depending on job classification.
Lassiter said Henry Ford hasn't decided on the amount of the general raise yet. He said annual raises have ranged from 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent in past years.
"We are humbled by the passion and dedication of our 33,000 team members who work tirelessly every day in our local communities," said Nina Ramsey, Henry Ford's senior vice president and chief human resources officer, in a statement. "This wage increase for so many of our frontline essential workers is really the beginning of our journey to provide a differentiated experience for all of our team members — rooted in our mission and core values."
Henry Ford is a Detroit-based integrated health system with six hospitals, 250 outpatient facilities, a 540-member health plan and 2,200-physician Henry Ford Physician Network that includes about 1,600 employed doctors.