Adult cleaner maid woman with mop and uniform cleaning corridor pass floor of pharmacy industry factory or medical clinic

A new study done by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Labor and Employment Relations says many Chicago hospital workers are finding themselves overworked but underpaid, according to an article on the Chicago Sun Times website.

Bob Bruno, one of the report’s authors said most people see hospitals as profitable enterprises employing professionals who make a lot of money. But there’s an underclass of employees that hospitals rely on that don’t see those salaries.

In Chicago, hospital workers in food preparation, cleaning, maintenance and healthcare support occupations make up about 1 out of 6 hospital employees, or 33,000. Their estimated median hourly wage is under $15 for healthcare support occupations and under $13 for cleaning and maintenance, food preparation and service occupations, the article said. Annual median earnings for full-time Chicago hospital service workers range from $26,000 and $31,000.

The study found that wages have been stagnant for hospital service workers, despite indicators of increasing industry demand and better-educated workforce.

But Danny Chun, a spokesperson for the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, notes the study also acknowledging that a significant number of staff in maintenance, food service and other support professions earn above $15 per hour in wages, a figure which does not take into account benefits packages.

Nevertheless, the report recommends improving the compensation standards of hospital service workers in order to raise wages above $15, which could come through unionization.

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