LA enacts $25 minimum wage for healthcare workers – Daily News

on Jul9
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Healthcare workers in Los Angeles just got a raise.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an ordinance Friday, July 8 that sets a $25-an-hour minimum wage for healthcare workers in the city. The law covers all private sector healthcare employees who work in hospitals, integrated health systems and dialysis clinics.

The measure was approved last month by the Los Angeles City Council in a 10-0 vote after SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West collected the required amount of signatures to put the wage hike on the November ballot.

Since the measure was initiated by a petition drive, the council could either adopt the initiative or put it before voters. The council opted to enact the measure.

The law covers all private sector healthcare employees who work in hospitals, integrated health systems and dialysis clinics. (Photo courtesy of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West)

“We applaud Mayor Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council for their leadership and taking a critical step toward protecting public health and addressing a healthcare worker staffing shortage that threatens Angelenos’ care,” SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan said in a statement.

An SEIU representative said the wage hike will apply to healthcare employees at more than 100 facilities throughout the city.

Opposition to similar initiatives

The union has filed similar ballot initiatives for 10 other Southern California cities. But some are not so quick to support the idea.

Long Beach and Monterey Park have asked for economic impact studies before backing the initiative, and Duarte and Downey are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to place it on the ballot, adopt an ordinance or ask for an economic study., a coalition sponsored by the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, is opposed to an across-the-board pay increase, as it would exclude workers who do the same jobs at public hospitals, clinics and health care facilities.

The coalition — backed by funding from Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and its hospitals, Dignity Health and the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems — also notes that it takes in janitors, housekeepers, security guards and other non-medical workers.

In a statement released last month, the coalition said L.A.’s “hasty adoption of this inequitable measure” is unfair for workers, costly for patients and risky for Los Angeles.

The coalition said the law excludes workers at 90% of healthcare facilities in the city.

“In addition to being inequitable and unfair, the ordinance will jeopardize access to care at local health care providers — especially community clinics and those providers that care for underserved populations,” the group said.

Nearly $9 more an hour

L.A’s new law will give Mauricio Medina a pay increase of nearly $9 an hour. He currently earns $16.25 hourly working as a certified nursing assistant at Southern California Hospital at Hollywood.

“This will enable me to focus more on school and becoming a registered nurse,” the 45-year-old Los Angeles resident said. “I’ve put my education on hold for a long time because I’ve been working two or three jobs. This will give me the opportunity to move on and better provide for my family.”

Regan said the council recognized “the urgency of the situation” and took decisive action to protect public health.

“We look forward to other cities following suit and setting fair wages for healthcare workers,” he said.

Medina said the newly enacted minimum wage will help attract and retain healthcare workers, many of whom are overworked and underpaid.

“We made so many sacrifices to care for our patients during this pandemic, and so many of us are burnt out from years of understaffing and intense workloads,” Medina said. “I hear from many other healthcare workers who are considering leaving the field as the risks of working in a hospital have increased.”

Boosting the minimum wage acknowledges the work healthcare employees do, he said, and it will help keep them on the job at hospitals across L.A.

Delayed patient care

A recent survey of more than 30,000 SEIU-UHW members, Crisis in Care, highlighted the short-staffing crisis in California, with 83% of healthcare workers saying their facility is understaffed. Up to 20% said they have considered leaving the field in the past year.

Sixty-five percent of those polled in the report said they were aware of patient care being delayed or denied as a result of short staffing.

This comes as healthcare corporations are reporting record profits.

The SEIU report recommends that medical facilities increase staffing by 10% a year for three years to meet growing patient demand and provide annual raises tied to the cost of living.

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