The Monterey Park City Council has approved a $25-an-hour minimum wage for private sector healthcare workers, making it the third Southern California city to do so.
The new base wage will cover all healthcare employees in private hospitals, integrated health systems and dialysis clinics in Monterey Park.
The council’s 2-1 vote on Monday comes after SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, a union of healthcare workers, collected the required amount of signatures to put the minimum wage initiative on the ballot.
Since the measure was initiated by a petition drive, the council could either adopt it as an ordinance or put it before voters. The council opted to enact the wage hike, which is set to take effect 30 days after the city attorney processes the ordinance.
Los Angeles was the first Southand city to approve the $25-an-hour minimum wage ordinance on July 8. Downey followed soon after, and the Long Beach City Council is set to consider the ordinance at tonight’s meeting.
Some are not so happy with the pay increases.
No on the Los Angeles Unequal Pay Measure — a coalition of healthcare workers, community clinics and hospitals that oppose L.A.’s ordinance — have filed paperwork with the city clerk to begin the process of qualifying a referendum for the November ballot.
If qualified, the referendum on the 2024 ballot would allow voters to decide the fate of the measure.
NoUnequalPay.com — which opposes such ordinances at several Southern California cities — said the measures are “deeply flawed, inequitable and discriminatory,” as they give pay increases to workers at private healthcare facilities while excluding others who do the same jobs at public hospitals and healthcare clinics.
The coalition — backed by funding from Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and its hospitals, Dignity Health and the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems — said the pay hikes also take in janitors, housekeepers, security guards and other non-medical workers.
A study from Berkeley Research Group says 65% of Los Angeles healthcare workers will be excluded from the $25 minimum wage ordinance. Other cities would also see large swaths of workers excluded, the report said, including Downey (79%), Monterey Park (54%) and Long Beach (65%).
The report also predicts a minimum wage increase would create a ripple effect, fueling additional pay hikes for other healthcare workers already earning $25 an hour or more.
Those currently making $25 to $29.99 an hour would see an increase of 19%, the study said, while others earning $30 and $34.99 an hour would get a 9.5% raise.
The report was commissioned by the California Hospitals Committee on Issues, an initiative committee that takes positions on ballot initiatives of interest to the hospital community.
SEIU-UHW initially targeted 10 Southland cities for minimum wage increases: Anaheim, Baldwin Park, Culver City, Downey, Duarte, Inglewood, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Lynwood and Monterey Park.
Becky Warren, a spokeswoman for NoUnequalPay.com, said Inglewood and Duarte have sent the measure to the November ballot, while SEIU-UHW failed to collect enough valid signatures for Baldwin Park, Lynwood and Culver City. And Anaheim failed to submit signatures.
One thing is certain — employees who stand to receive pay increases aren’t complaining.
Clara Nunez, an admitting representative at Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, said healthcare workers who have continually manned the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic feel underappreciated and undercompensated.
“I’ve seen people leave for better-paying jobs, especially as the risks of working in a hospital increased during the pandemic,” she said. “A fair minimum wage will help struggling families and stop healthcare workers from leaving their jobs.”
Mauricio Medina, a certified nursing assistant at Southern California Hospital at Hollywood who currently earns $16.25 an hour, will see a pay hike of nearly $9 an hour if L.A.’s $25-an-hour wage ordinance stands.
“I’ve put my education on hold for a long time because I’ve been working two or three jobs,” Medina said last month. “This will give me the opportunity to move on and better provide for my family.”
SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan said stress, burnout and low pay have led to staffing shortages in hospitals throughout Southern California.
“We commend the Monterey Park City Council for voting to protect public health for residents and addressing a staffing shortage that threatens patient care,” Regan said in a statement.