Nurse - Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Mayor Eric Garcetti Friday signed into law an ordinance raising the minimum wage for people working at some healthcare facilities in the city to $25 per hour.

The “Minimum Wage for Employees Working at Healthcare Facilities” initiative, which was brought to the city through a successful petition drive, raises the workers’ minimum wage at affected facilities, adjusting it annually to account for increases in the cost of living.

The ordinance also prohibits employers from funding the minimum wage increase by laying off workers or reducing benefits or hours.

The ordinance applies only to privately owned facilities, including hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities or residential care facilities. It applies to workers including clinicians, nursing assistants, aides, technicians, maintenance workers, janitors, housekeepers, clerical workers and administrative workers.

The City Council approved the measure last month. Since the measure was initiated by a petition drive, the council had the choice of either adopting the initiative or putting it before voters. The council opted to simply enact the measure.

“The past few years have taken an unimaginable toll on our healthcare workers — often putting themselves at risk to care for the sick and their families,” Garcetti said in a statement announcing the signing of the ordinance. “It is time we put them first. Our healthcare heroes deserve fair compensation for their critical work, countless sacrifices and incredible service to our city and its people.”

People who work for healthcare facilities in Los Angeles do not have their own minimum wage law and are included under the city’s general minimum wage, which rose to $16.04 last Friday. Los Angeles’ minimum wage is based on the region’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

A group known as the No on the Los Angeles Unequal Pay Measure coalition criticized the ordinance for creating inequitable pay requirements in the industry, contending workers at 90% of healthcare facilities in the city are excluded from the law.

“The Los Angeles City Council’s hasty adoption of this inequitable measure is unfair for workers, costly for patients and risky for Los Angeles,” according to the group. “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.”

According to its website, the coalition is funded by the California Association of Hospitals and Healthcare Systems.

Several healthcare workers attended the council’s meeting when it considered the matter, with one saying he has to work outside jobs — such as painting houses or doing construction — to make ends meet outside of his job. Another told the council that people working at healthcare facilities should be able to focus on their patients without worrying about having enough money to feed their families.

But some healthcare industry representatives opposed the measure, with one urging the council to put the matter before voters so they could fully weigh the issues and warning it will create an unfair playing field for some area clinics that will have to dramatically raise wages to compete amid a limited workforce.

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