California cities split over $25-per-hour healthcare minimum wage

Measures that would establish a $25 minimum hourly wage for workers at private healthcare facilities went before voters in two California cities, with one poised for approval and the other for rejection, Kaiser Health News reported Nov. 17.

Measure J was on the November ballot for Duarte, Calif., and Measure HC was on the November ballot for Inglewood, Calif.

The latest count showed 63.55 percent of voters against Measure J and 36.45 percent for it, according to Los Angeles County election officials. In Inglewood, the latest count showed 46.51 percent voting against Measure HC and 53.49 percent voting for it.

Final results are expected to be released Dec. 5, according to Kaiser Health News.

The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West has pushed for measures in these and other California cities establishing a $25 minimum hourly wage for workers at private healthcare facilities. The union has said raising the minimum wage would help address workforce challenges.

"We're thrilled that Inglewood voters recognize and value the sacrifices made by essential healthcare workers. After the extreme risks of working in a hospital for the past few years, many people don't want to stay, especially if they can earn the same somewhere else," Martha Alvarez, a certified nursing assistant at Inglewood-based Centinela Hospital, said in a Nov. 15 union news release. "Working in healthcare is physically and emotionally demanding, and patients' lives are in our hands. Raising wages is not only fair, but it will help attract more workers to Inglewood and help patients get the care they need."

The union also contends that voters in Duarte were misled by the hospital campaign against the measure.

The California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems — which is affiliated with the California Hospital Association and has sponsored campaigns against the measures — has called such ordinances "deeply flawed" and "inequitable," saying they exclude many healthcare workers.

George Greene, president and CEO of the Hospital Association of Southern California, shared a statement with Becker's: "Hospitals support fair wages for healthcare workers and provide competitive, living wages with strong benefits. But Measure J and Measure HC were deeply flawed, unequal and unfair measures — picking winners and losers among healthcare workers while excluding workers at the vast majority of healthcare facilities in each city. Voters recognized the serious flaws in each of these measures with voters in Duarte appearing to overwhelmingly reject Measure J, while Inglewood voters are currently supporting Measure HC by a narrow margin, despite being one of the most progressive cities in the state. We support continued conversations at the state or regional level to determine the most appropriate and equitable approaches to addressing worker compensation. Deeply flawed ordinances considered city by city is bad policy and the wrong approach."

Proposals similar to the ones in Inglewood and Duarte are slated for the ballot in Los Angeles, Downey, Long Beach and Monterey Park in 2024, according to Kaiser Health News.

Read the full report here

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