Hospitals seek repeal of $25 hourly healthcare worker minimum wage in Los Angeles

A union is pushing back amid a campaign by hospitals to repeal an ordinance recently signed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti that establishes a $25 minimum hourly wage for workers at eligible privately owned healthcare facilities in the city.

The No on the Los Angeles Unequal Pay Measure coalition, a group that also includes other healthcare facilities and is sponsored by the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, launched a campaign July 12 to repeal the ordinance, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Now, the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West said it has released an ad, for digital and broadcast platforms, claiming that hospitals are using deceptive tactics and trying to cut healthcare worker wages. The union also urges voters not to sign referendum petitions.

"We know that voters support healthcare workers, and we refuse to let greedy hospitals and millionaire hospital executives mislead voters by lying about this referendum. Angelenos deserve to know the truth about the deceptive effort to take away fair wages for healthcare workers," Dave Regan, president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, said in a July 29 news release shared with Becker's.  "We want to remind voters that hospitals have experienced record pandemic windfalls, while workers struggle with staff shortages and an exodus of caregivers to better-paying jobs."

The ordinance in question — which Mr. Garcetti signed July 8 after the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously June 29 in favor of raising the minimum wage — affects workers in a range of roles at certain privately owned healthcare facilities in the city, including acute care hospitals, affiliated clinics and skilled nursing facilities. Affected roles include clinicians, nurses, aides, technicians, maintenance workers, janitorial or housekeeping staff, groundskeepers, guards, food service workers, pharmacists and administrative or clerical workers. The increase excludes managers and supervisors.

The hospital coalition is seeking a public vote on the minimum wage issue and has released its own ad against the ordinance, contending it will negatively affect workers and patients.

"The unequal pay measure is arbitrary and inequitable, as it excludes 90 percent of healthcare facilities across the city," Becky Warren, spokesperson for the hospital coalition, told Becker's. "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."

According to a July 8 news release from the mayor's office, the new minimum wage becomes effective 31 days after the ordinance is published. However, if the hospital coalition obtains nearly 41,000 valid signatures from eligible voters, the wage increase would be at least temporarily blocked from taking effect, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The mayor's office estimates the minimum wage increase affects about 20,000 healthcare workers.

The union has supported $25 minimum wage efforts in other California cities, including Inglewood and Duarte, where city councils have sent the measures to the ballot. In Los Angeles, the city council voted on the issue instead of placing it on the upcoming ballot, according to the Los Angeles Times.  

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