UW Health will raise their minimum hourly wage in May from $15 to $17 an hour — a decision that will affect over 20% of employees, the hospital announced Wednesday.
The wage increase aims to attract new employees and support current staff.
“We are raising the bar again to support the dedicated and talented staff here at UW Health,” UW Health’s Chief Human Resources Officer Betsy Clough in a statement. "I feel like this will have a rather large impact."
The minimum wage was previously increased to $15 an hour five years ago. The increase to $17 an hour will raise the wages of about 1,000 workers with over 200 job titles, including environmental services technicians, medical assistants and nursing assistants.
Surrounding businesses and companies are following suit. Stoughton Trailers bumped up its minimum hourly wage from $18 to $20 in September. Exact Science raised its $15 an hour minimum rate to $17 in the last two years, and SSM Health announced in January $5,000 "stay bonuses" for nurses who work for another year.
Although UW Health recognized the importance of sustaining livable wages for hourly staff, it has yet to meet the demands of nurses fighting for the revival of a union that ended ten years. In 2011, Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 ended collective bargaining for many public employees.
Clough remains confident that more improvements for employees are on the horizon.
“We have a series of both short-term strategies, things like increasing our lowest regular rate, and longer-term strategies which include things like rethinking how we do our work,” Clough said. “We’re trying to put all of those together.”