Several Southern California cities have approved or are considering a $25-an-hour minimum wage for healthcare workers in private facilities, but a new report says 65% of healthcare workers in those communities would be excluded.
The Berkeley Research Group study predicts the move would also result in higher wages for people earning more than minimum wage, raising health care costs by hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Berkeley’s analysis was spurred by a series of ballot initiatives recently filed by SEIU-UHW in 10 Southland communities. The wage increases target private sector health workers who work in hospitals, integrated health systems and dialysis clinics.
The report was commissioned by the California Hospitals Committee on Issues, an initiative committee that takes a stand on ballot initiatives of interest to the hospital community.
Since the wage-raising measures were initiated by a petition campaign, cities can either pass them as an ordinance or submit them to voters in November.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti approved the ordinance for Los Angeles on July 8, but it was quickly challenged with “No to Los Angeles’ Unequal Pay Measure.” The coalition of healthcare workers, community clinics and hospitals says the pay rise is unfair because it does not include employees of public healthcare facilities.
Backed by funding from Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and its hospitals, Dignity Health and the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems – the coalition also notes that the pay hike is for janitors, housekeepers, security guards and d other non-medical workers.
Garcetti defended his decision.
“It’s time we put them first,” the mayor said as he signed the ordinance. “Our healthcare heroes deserve fair compensation for their essential work, countless sacrifices, and incredible service to our city and its people.”
Yecenia Cardenas-Gomez, a certified practical nurse in Los Angeles, said a pay raise was badly needed.
“Many carers are considering leaving the field for another job because the risks of working in a hospital have increased and they struggle to meet their basic needs,” she said. “Our city is facing a shortage of healthcare workers.
Downey City Council also voted to approve a $25 minimum wage ordinance for healthcare workers employed in private facilities.
The Berkeley report offers a breakdown of the 10 cities targeted by the SEIU-UHW and the percentage of healthcare workers who would be excluded from the pay increase if such compensation mandates were approved by voters:
- Anaheim – 77%
- Baldwin Park – 85%
- City of Culver – 82%
- Downey – 79%
- Duarte – 51%
- Inglewood – 63%
- Long Beach – 65%
- Los Angeles – 65%
- Lynwood – 57%
- Monterey Park – 54%
Becky Warren, spokesperson for NoUnequalPay.com, said Inglewood and Duarte sent the measure to the November ballot, while Monterey Park and Long Beach debated whether to pass an ordinance or leave it to voters. .
SEIU-UHW failed to collect enough valid signatures to put the measure on the ballot for Baldwin Park, Lynwood and Culver City, Warren said, adding that signatures were never submitted for Anaheim.
These developments occurred after the Berkeley report was written.
The study predicts that an increase in the minimum wage would create a ripple effect, fueling additional wage increases for other healthcare workers who already earn $25 an hour or more. Those currently earning between $25 and $29.99 an hour would see a 19% increase, the study found, while others earning $30 and $34.99 an hour would see a 9% increase. .5%.
The report says total health care salaries in Los Angeles will rise from $4.3 billion to nearly $4.6 billion, a 6.7% increase in the first year. Other cities would also see large increases in total payrolls, including Inglewood (9.2%), Duarte (4.5%), Monterey Park (9.3%) and Long Beach (8%).
George W. Greene, president and CEO of the Southern California Hospital Association, said Berkeley’s report demonstrates the “intrinsic unfairness” of the proposed wage increases.
“The measures are deeply flawed, unjust and discriminatory, creating arbitrary and harmful public policy,” Greene said in a statement. “We believe there are better ways to recognize the heroic work of healthcare workers.