Los Angeles minimum wage hike for healthcare workers up to voters

A measure that proposes to raise the minimum wage for some healthcare workers in Los Angeles to $25 an hour will go before voters in 2024.

The City of Los Angeles office of the City Clerk announced Sept. 30 that the City Council took action in response to a certified referendum petition to submit an ordinance on healthcare workers' minimum wage to the voters at the city's primary nominating election on March 5, 2024. 

According to a Sept. 30 report from the Los Angeles Daily News, the city ordinance to raise the minimum wage resulted from an initiative petition drive presented to the Los Angeles City Council in June. As a result, the council adopted the ordinance, which was signed into law by Mayor Eric Garcetti. According to the report, a group called "No on the Los Angeles Unequal Pay Measure" subsequently collected enough signatures to force a referendum, suspend the ordinance, and prompt a public vote on the measure. 

The ordinance would raise the affected workers' minimum wage, adjust it annually to account for living costs, and prohibit employers from funding the minimum wage increase by laying off workers or reducing benefits and hours. However, the ordinance only applies to privately owned facilities. The current minimum wage in Los Angeles is $16.04 an hour. 

The initiative petition drive creating the ordinance was organized by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. According to the union, its members are concerned about short-staffing in healthcare facilities, and 20 percent said they had considered leaving the field in the past year.

The opposition group is funded primarily by the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. Its members contend the municipal ordinance excludes workers at more than 90 percent of healthcare facilities in the city, calling the measure "inequitable and discriminatory."

According to George Greene, president and CEO of the Hospital Association of Southern California, the ordinance requires pay increases for some workers at some facilities while excluding workers doing the same jobs at other providers. 

"We all agree that health care workers deserve support and recognition for the heroic work they do and hospitals go to great lengths to reward and appreciate workers. We support further conversations around fair and equitable compensation, but the deeply flawed nature of this ordinance means that — at a minimum — voters should have the final say," Mr. Greene told the Los Angeles Daily News. 

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