Diagnostic technologists at Michigan Medicine gain formal recognition

More than 900 diagnostic technologists at Michigan Medicine gained official recognition from the University of Michigan/Michigan Medicine administration of their newly formed union: United Michigan Medicine Allied Professionals/AFT Local 6739, on Feb. 24. The technologists have been organizing for two years.

Diagnostic techs at Michigan Medicine

“By coming together as a union, we can ensure our voices are heard across the healthcare system and our knowledge and expertise of what it takes to have a balanced work environment is respected,” says Angela Brogan, a mammography technologist in the Rogel Cancer Center. “I believe unionizing will preserve a strong bond with leadership to not only secure world-class patient care, but also to employ and retain critical technologists throughout Michigan Medicine.”

Brogan has been with Michigan Medicine for 14 and a half years. She began her profession as a general X-ray technician before becoming a mammography technologist. Brogan initially considered unionizing four years ago, when the facility implemented a merit-based pay system. “The pay system has been a unifying issue in the organizing drive,” says Brogan, noting that even though the technologists cover departments across the facility, they found common ground in their desire to address merit-based pay, pensions and benefits in their first contract.

Penni Toney has been a computed tomography technologist for 20 years, the last seven and a half at Michigan Medicine’s main campus in Ann Arbor. She began thinking about unionizing in 2020, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s when Toney says the hospital started cutting benefits. The loss of her 403(b) match and tuition reimbursement was alarming for Toney, who was working on completing a bachelor’s degree at the time.

Diagnostic techs at Michigan Medicine

Even before the pandemic, Michigan Medicine was going through a shortage of CT technologists, says Toney, who became actively involved in the organizing effort in May 2020.

With this recognition, the technologists are focusing on better outcomes for their patients, a better working environment, and securing benefits that will improve recruitment and retention, says Toney. “We want Michigan Medicine to be the premier place for all techs to come,” she adds. “Unionizing helps us to work collaboratively with hospital administration.

“Michigan Medicine has been great in working with us. It is a great place to work,” Toney says. “We want a seat at the table and our opinions to matter.”

Paul Brown, chair of the board of regents of the University of Michigan, says, “Unions are a positive thing for Michigan Medicine and the university. Diagnostic technologists and all Michigan Medicine healthcare workers are the heart of Michigan Medicine, and we are looking forward to working closely with UMMAP in providing high-quality patient care.”

Diagnostic technologists often work directly with physician assistants, who gained recognition in 2020 as the United Physician Assistants of Michigan Medicine (UPAMM)/AFT Local 5297. “The physician assistants were instrumental in giving us guidance,” says Toney.

“The physician assistants of UPAMM are excited to welcome the UMMAP diagnostic technologists to our growing union family at Michigan Medicine,” says UPAMM President Jill Hasen. “We are looking forward to working with UMMAP to make the health system a better place to work for all of us, which will help us provide the best care to our patients.”

UMMAP will be a multi-bargaining unit union of healthcare workers across Michigan Medicine, with diagnostic technologists leading the charge and becoming the first unit to gain official recognition.

[Adrienne Coles, AFT Michigan press release]