3rd California city approves $25 hourly minimum wage for some healthcare workers

The Monterey Park (Calif.) City Council approved a $25 minimum hourly wage for workers at private hospitals, integrated health systems and dialysis clinics in the city, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported Aug. 2.

The 2-1 council vote Aug. 1 comes after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an ordinance July 8 establishing a $25 minimum hourly wage for workers at eligible privately owned healthcare facilities. The city of Downey, Calif., has also approved a $25-an-hour minimum wage ordinance for private-sector healthcare workers, meaning Monterey Park is the third California city to do so, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West has petitioned to get minimum wage measures on multiple city ballots in California. City councils have the option of voting on the issue instead of placing it before voters.

The union praised these measures as a way to help with staffing shortages.

"The pandemic has worsened staffing shortages in local hospitals and many workers have left the industry due to chronic stress, burnout and low pay," Dave Regan, president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, said in a news release after the Monterey council vote. "We commend the Monterey Park City Council for voting to protect public health for residents and addressing a staffing shortage that threatens patient care. By ensuring healthcare workers earn a fair wage that reflects their vital work, Monterey Park can retain and attract the workers needed to ensure the quality of healthcare doesn’t decline in the city."

But a coalition sponsored by the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems has launched a campaign against the measures, saying they are "deeply flawed and inequitable" because they exclude workers at most healthcare facilities. The group is seeking a repeal of the Los Angeles measure. 

"The unequal pay measure is arbitrary and inequitable, as it excludes 90 percent of healthcare facilities across the city," Becky Warren, spokesperson for the coalition, told Becker's of the Los Angeles ordinance. "We have found that voters are quick to sign the referendum petition when they learn about how deeply flawed this measure is and want to have a voice."

The union initially filed ballot initiatives in 10 California cities.

Meanwhile, the union said it has released an ad for digital and broadcast platforms that claims hospitals are using deceptive tactics and trying to cut healthcare worker wages. 

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