California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that will raise the minimum wage for health care workers in the state to $25 per hour. The proposal, known as Senate Bill 525, was put forward by Los Angeles lawmaker María Elena Durazo and aims to address the workforce shortage in the health care industry that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Supporters of the bill argue that higher wages are necessary to retain health care workers who have been facing grueling conditions and many of whom have quit their jobs. However, it was uncertain whether Governor Newsom would sign the bill, as his office was not directly involved in the wage negotiations between hospitals, clinics, and unions. In the past, the governor has cited cost pressures as a reason for vetoing similar bills.
Labor leaders have celebrated the signing of the bill, with Tia Orr, Executive Director of SEIU California, calling it a "huge win for workers and patients seeking care." The bill received support from hospitals, dialysis centers, and community clinics in the final days of the legislative session. In exchange for their support, SEIU agreed to halt its efforts to seek dialysis industry regulation through the ballot for the next four years. The bill also includes a provision stating that a statewide minimum wage for health care workers would override any local ordinances.
The bill's passage was a significant victory for SEIU, a powerful labor union that has long been advocating for a minimum wage for health care workers. Last year, a deal between the union and hospitals fell through, and SEIU subsequently pursued a city-by-city approach in Southern California. The bill's signing by Governor Newsom represents a culmination of these efforts.
Overall, the signing of Senate Bill 525 marks a significant development in California's health care sector. The $25 minimum wage for health care workers aims to address the workforce shortage and improve retention rates. However, concerns about the cost of implementing the bill have been raised, with an earlier analysis estimating a yearly cost of over $1 billion to the state. It remains to be seen how the wage increase will impact the health care industry and whether it will effectively address the workforce challenges it seeks to resolve.