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VCU Health will increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour
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VCU Health will increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour

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Virginia Commonwealth University Health System is raising its minimum wage from $12 to $15 as businesses are raising the salaries of low-end workers to fill open positions.

About 1,700 employees and contract workers, around 10% of the total workforce, will receive the raise, which goes into effect in September. Among the workers who will receive raises are staffers who provide food and nutrition services, offer cleaning services and operate the valet service.

“Our team members, including these frontline workers, have gone to extraordinary lengths to support our mission and ultimately our patients,” chief human resources officer Paula M. Henderson said in a statement. “Every single one of them contributes to a patient’s care experience, whether it’s providing comfort and kind words behind their masks, a hot meal, clean sheets and so much more.”

Bon Secours implemented a new compensation model in 2019, a spokesperson said. The company is increasing minimum wages in phases and expects to pay its employees at least $15 an hour by 2022. The spokesperson didn’t say what the Bon Secours’ current minimum wage is or how the company is choosing which employees will receive raises first.

A spokesperson for HCA did not respond to a request for the health system’s minimum wage.

In May, Virginia raised its minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50. In 2023, it will increase to $12, and if the General Assembly approves, it could go as high as $15.

For many businesses, $15 has become the norm. Minimum wage activists have called for a $15 base, and companies in the restaurant, retail and travel industries have begun offering that much in order to attract workers. VCU Health called the raise a “living wage adjustment,” echoing the phrase “living wage,” which activists have used to describe a wage that allows employees to meet their basic needs.

The number of job postings on the website ZipRecruiter offering $15 an hour has more than doubled since 2019, according to The Associated Press.

About 26 million people, or 16% of workers, have received higher pay because of state and local minimum wage increases since 2012, according to the National Employment Law Project. Large companies such as Amazon, Costco and Target have raised their minimum wages to $15.

ekolenich@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6109

Twitter: @EricKolenich

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Eric Kolenich writes about higher education for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the newspaper in 2009 and spent a decade as a reporter in the Sports section. (804) 649-6109

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