MetroHealth has raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour for all employees, effective immediately.
The hourly wage increase affects 928 employees, with an average wage increase of 12.1%. Of the affected employees, 203 will have their wages increased to $15 an hour, while the rest will see adjustments above that rate, according to a news release. Employees will see the adjustment in their paycheck next month, which will include the wage increase backdated to Feb. 3.
The affected employees work in a number of entry-level positions, such as patient transport, environmental services, laundry services, facilities maintenance and food services, according to the release. Also among those receiving increases are greeters, unit secretaries, customer care partners, pharmacy technicians and medical team assistants.
"MetroHealth's mission is to care for everyone and that includes our employees," said Dr. Akram Boutros, president and CEO of MetroHealth, in a prepared statement. "It's important, at every level of the organization, that the 7,800 people here who spend their days caring for others know how important they are, feel valued and are able to support their families. Their financial health is just as important as their physical health."
Cleveland Clinic in December announced it was raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, ramping up with an increase to $14 an hour in January for one segment of employees and then raising it to the full $15 in 2020 for 2,900 employees. The increase applies only to clinic employees, not contractors, and at the time of the announcement it didn't yet apply to employees at Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital, which the clinic purchased last year.
Cleveland.com has reported that a small group of employees at Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Children's also are excluded.
The wage increase at MetroHealth applies to the members of the union AFSCME Local 3360. In February, the two reached a new three-year contract that includes the $15 minimum wage and a "substantial healthcare package," according to the release. The wage increase affects about 40% of the 2,300 union members who work at MetroHealth.
"Since Dr. Boutros has been the CEO of the MetroHealth system, the union and administration have enjoyed a collaborative relationship," said Julie Albers, president of AFSCME Local 3360 at MetroHealth, in a prepared statement. "The increase of our minimum wage to $15 per hour reflects that collaborative effort and the generosity of this administration. Our members will be able to have a greater work-life balance, live healthier lives and earn a living wage for their work."
Boutros said he made the decision based on numbers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which stated that for a two-parent, two-child family in Cuyahoga County, the minimum amount needed to secure a "modest, yet adequate," standard of living is $61,734 per year. For two full-time working adults, the hourly rate is $14.84, according to the release.
Boutros said it is an "obligation" of the system to support everybody in Cleveland that it can, especially those working at MetroHealth, with an adequate wage.
Beginning next year, MetroHealth is also offering employees a health plan that includes no copays and no co-insurance for any health care coverage they receive at MetroHealth, Boutros said.
"We hope that other organizations throughout Cleveland, both healthcare and otherwise, examine their current situation," Boutros said. "And we would be happy to help them look at how we approached and ended up making that decision because I think if more companies take this approach, we will have a better Cleveland."
MetroHealth raised its minimum wage in 2016 to $12.48 an hour. The minimum wage in Ohio is $8.55 an hour and the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.