Dallas County and Parkland Hospital Executives Set Example in Push for a Living Wage

Parkland Hospital executives have decided to increase the minimum wage for employees, effective July 1, to $10.25 per hour, well above the minimum wages set by Texas and the federal government.

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Parkland Hospital chief talent officer Jim Dunn speaks to ABC affiliate WFAA 8 in an interview that aired June 12, 2014.

WFAA 8 screenshot

Brittany Florence, who cleans floors for a living at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, will earn a living wage for the very first time.

“I can save money and move into my own place now,” Florence told ABC affiliate WFAA 8.

Next month Florence, 25, will see her wage increase by $1.50 an hour, reports WFAA.

The pay increase stems from a move by Parkland’s executives and board members to offer around 230 entry-level employees, mostly in linen, dietary and environmental services, a living wage to narrow an ongoing pay gap.

“We are hoping this will provide our lower-level employees a more equitable standard of living, and will also benefit our organization,” said Jim Dunn, Parkland’s chief talent officer and one of five committee members, reports WFAA.

Starting July 1, full-time Parkland workers will earn a minimum of $10.25 an hour—$3 more than the state and federal minimum wage, both of which are set at $7.25 per hour.

“We’re looking to show our commitment to all levels of talent in the organization,” said Dunn, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Parkland leadership’s efforts to boost morale for its employees by offering a fair wage won’t come cheap. It is estimated that the wage increase will cost the hospital an additional $350,000 this fiscal year, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The money will come from the executives’ performance-reward fund.

“We will figure out another way to make it fit the bottom line,” Dunn said, according to the Dallas Morning News.

If enough savings are not raised, the executives will forgo their bonus performance pay, Dunn said, Dallas Morning News reports.

Alongside this move, Parkland’s executive committee also approved a pay-for-performance plan that will allow top hospital executives to be eligible for somewhere in the ballpark of $750,000 to $1.2 million in bonuses, linked to performance over the next three months, notes the Dallas Morning News.

Dr. Paula Dobbs-Wiggins, who heads Parkland’s Employee Relations Executive Compensation Committee, said the committee’s decision to pair the minimum-wage increase with the executive compensation package will encourage top managers to produce enough financial savings to account for the additional cost of pay increases this year. She added that such pay “rewards and encourages clinical excellence, attention to patient safety and personal accountability,” reports Dallas Morning News.

The hospital’s commitment to increase its minimum wage will ensure that all of Dallas County’s workers will earn a minimum of $10.25 per hour, Dallas Morning News reports.

County Judge Clay Jenkins applauded Parkland for falling in line with the county, whose commissioners approved a similar wage increase in March.

“People that work hard and play by the rules deserve to get ahead,” Jenkins said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “Earning $10.25 an hour affords most people a chance to stay above the federal poverty line.”

Read more at WFAA 8 and the Dallas Morning News.

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