Running In Place

Michigan Medicine refuses to acknowledge inflation-adjusted wage increases.


“Shocked,” was the response from Michigan Medicine when the HOA Bargaining team made its first wage proposal a month ago. After years of increased workload, a global pandemic, a high-cost local housing market, and an amount of inflation not seen in a generation, House Officer wage increases have been largely gobbled up.  The HOA’s initial proposal included an inflation-adjusted wage increase and modest merit increases for each contract year. The point was clear, House Officers must keep their real wages growing for Michigan Medicine to remain competitive.  The University can’t turn Ann Arbor into Boston, but it can make working at Michigan Medicine more attractive by offering competitive wages.

Michigan competes with other peer institutions for top-tier residents who have made strides in their compensation packages, while Michigan Medicine remains idle and has yet to make a counter proposal on wages to the HOA. Mass General Brigham recently announced salary increases for all its residents. By July 1st of this year, residents there will make more money as a PGY-1 than an HO-5 currently makes at Michigan Medicine. The University of Illinois, whose residents formed a union not long ago, announced similar large-scale wage increases for their trainees.


The fight for increased pay for medical residents is widespread as medical residents are increasingly organizing their own unions to better their working conditions. Just last month, residents at UPenn became the first to petition for a union in their state. As you read this now, there are even rumblings and fights for better pay across the pond as junior physicians in Britain are voting to strike to increase their salaries. Michigan Medicine is part of the (now global) realization that the work residents do matters, that hospitals would not function without them, and that such work is often thankless and underpaid. It is something that needs to stop. 

It is no secret that Michigan Medicine has money. In fact, they like to announce this fact to the general public quite often. It is only when its employees ask for a small portion of the financial windfall that the leadership tends to get very quiet. House Officers, and their negotiating team, are committed to never taking “No” for an answer, the stakes are just too high this time.

There are dozens of challenges facing the healthcare community when it comes to providing exceptional patient care. Some might look at how steep the climb is and get discouraged. We are committed to taking each step together. Providing residents with a living wage is the easiest step for Michigan Medicine to take. We will continue to push leadership to join their peer institutions in making that hike up the hill, because the HOA bargaining team, and all UM House Officers, refuse to keep running in place.