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New union urges UM Regents to make room in budget for their first-ever contract demands

Members of the "SEIU Healthcare Michigan" union at rally in front of Ruthven Building on campus, where Regents met on Thursday for presentations on the University's next fiscal year budget.
SEIU Healthcare Michigan
Members of the "SEIU Healthcare Michigan" union at rally in front of Ruthven Building on campus, where Regents met on Thursday for presentations on the University's next fiscal year budget.

Members of a new hospital union at the University of Michigan held a rally outside the regents meeting Thursday.

The meeting included presentations on the university's next fiscal year's budget, with union leaders saying the timing of the rally is intended to remind the regents to include room in the budget for their first-ever contract demands.

The SEIU Healthcare Michigan union includes nearly 2,600 Michigan Medicine workers, including respiratory therapists, phlebotomists, clerks, patient care techs, and patient services staff.

Ashley Greene is a respiratory therapist at Michigan Medicine.

"A lot of us are really struggling right now," she said. "There are some people in our unit that get paid less than $20 an hour. There are people who can't afford prescriptions. So we need to be able to make a living providing this care, not just make the bare minimum, and be told by this billion-dollar hospital that they don't have money for us."

Union leaders say nearly 1,000 of its members make under $20 an hour. In addition to wage increases, the union wants an increase in paid time off hours, and increases for late shift, weekend, and on call hours.

The University of Michigan has not yet commented on the rally or the union's claims.

U of M holds Michigan Public's broadcast license.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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