Law would apply only to workers at privately owned facilities
By Sam Catanzaro
Los Angeles City Council this week approved an ordinance raising the minimum wage for certain workers at healthcare facilities to $25 per hour.
The ordinance, called the “Minimum Wage for Employees Working at Healthcare Facilities” initiative, came before City Council following a petition drive. It raises the workers’ minimum wage while also adjusting it annually to account for cost of living increases. Before the initiative goes into effect, it has to be signed into law by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The ordinance bans employers from subsidizing the wage increase by laying off workers or reducing benefits and/or hours. It applies only to privately owned facilities, including hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and residential care centers. Covered under the ordinance are clinicians, nursing assistants, aides, technicians, maintenance workers, janitors, clerks and administrative workers.
When the ordinance originally came up for a vote last week, it passed 10-2 with Councilmember Joe Buscaino and Paul Krekorian voting in opposition. When it returned to City Council this week it passed 10-0 with Buscaino and Krekorian not voting.
Employees at Los Angeles healthcare facilities in Los Angeles until now have been included under the City’s general minimum wage of $15, which is set to increase to $16.04 on Friday.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, who represents Century City and Westwood, was among the supporters of the ordinance, saying last week he was worried about the health care industry, in general, being unable to keep up with demand for workers.
“Especially during the pandemic when people were burned out from incredibly long hours,” Koretz said. “They were burned out from people in their care dying. … Obviously all of you that are in the health care field love helping people. You wouldn’t do it otherwise because the financial remuneration isn’t enough. Especially at this level — people who risk their lives when they could be working at Target, or working at McDonald’s … without the risk, without the hard work, without the burnout.”
The ordinance, however, is not without detractors. A group called the No on the Los Angeles Unequal Pay Measure coalition denounced the law for creating inequitable pay provisions in the health care industry.
“The vast majority of healthcare workers in the city will be excluded by this discriminatory measure, as the wage standard only applies to workers at private hospitals and dialysis clinics, but completely excludes workers who do the exact same job at our city’s public hospitals, community clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, nursing homes, urgent care centers and many other facilities,” the group said. “The measure excludes workers at 90% of healthcare facilities in the city. In addition to being inequitable and unfair, the ordinance will jeopardize access to care at local health care providers — especially community clinics and those providers that care for underserved populations. The City Council should have put this measure to the November ballot to give the voters of Los Angeles the choice to vote on this inequitable policy.”
According to its website, the coalition is funded by the California Association of Hospitals and Health Care Systems.