They need 'liveable and fair wages,' says senator
Democratic lawmakers in California have introduced legislation that would set a $25 minimum hourly pay for healthcare workers and support staffers in the state.
Authored by Senator María Elena Durazo, the legislation would provide a huge boost to the current rates.
California currently holds the highest statewide minimum wage in the United States with $14 an hour for employers with 25 or less employees and $15 an hour for employers with 26 or more employees.
However, there are certain Californian cities and counties who offer their own minimum wages such as Berkeley with a minimum wage of $16.32, San Francisco with $16.32 and San Jose with a minimum wage of $16.20. If the Californian city or county has a higher minimum wage than the state’s, then the employer must pay the higher minimum wage.
“Today, healthcare workers of all walks of life joined me to introduce SB 525, which raises the healthcare worker minimum wage to $25 for lowest paid workers,” said Durazo in a tweet. “We have a patient care crisis and a workforce shortage statewide. They need livable and fair wages.”
About 1.5 million California workers could get a wage hike come January 2024 Gov. Gavin Newsom signs it, reported the Los Angeles Times, citing a labor leader.
Before introducing the bill, Durazo said that healthcare workers remain underpaid even as they play a crucial role in the COVID-19 pandemic. And many who earn close to the state’s $15.50 minimum wage struggle with inflation, she said.
“How do people survive?” Durazo told Kaiser Health News ahead of the bill’s introduction. “They can’t be on the edge of becoming homeless. That’s what we’re facing.”
The bill got the backing of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), which represents roughly 100,000 workers statewide.
Let’s pass #FairWages4Health!— SEIU-UHW #United4All (@seiu_uhw) February 15, 2023
Low wages are forcing CA healthcare workers to leave the field.
Hospitals make billions, while patients face long waits and worse care.
We can fix it! Join at https://t.co/8TJUaf9QhL pic.twitter.com/tiVmFzsY1n
In August 2022, SEIU-UHW said that it will urge California lawmakers to implement a state-wide $25 per hour minimum wage.
The union has pushed for ordinances in California cities establishing a minimum hourly wage of the same amount for workers at private healthcare facilities. It said that raising the minimum wage would help address workforce challenges.
However, the California Hospital Association claimed such ordinances are "deeply flawed" and exclude many healthcare workers. The development came after a deal between the union and the association collapsed.
SB 525 is was co-authored by Democratic senators Lola Smallwood-Cuevas and Aisha Wahab, and Democratic Assemblymembers Dr. Joaquin Arambula, Mia Bonta, Dawn Addis and Liz Ortega.
California law on minimum wage applies to the majority of employees and workers, but there are some exceptions.