SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Union-aligned Democrats were set to introduce legislation Wednesday mandating a statewide $25 minimum wage for health workers and support staffers, likely setting up a pitched battle with hospitals, nursing homes, and dialysis clinics.
State Sen. María Elena Durazo’s bill would require health facilities and home health agencies to give raises to many support employees, including nurse technicians, housekeepers, security guards, food workers, and laundry providers. The Los Angeles Democrat said workers remain underpaid even as they have played a crucial role in the covid-19 pandemic. Now, she argued, many who earn close to the state’s $15.50 minimum wage struggle with inflation.
“How do people survive?” Durazo told KHN ahead of the bill’s introduction. “They can’t be on the edge of becoming homeless. That’s what we’re facing.”
While the bill is backed by the influential Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, which represents roughly 100,000 workers statewide, similar proposals have previously faced strong opposition from the health industry.
If lawmakers approve the bill and Gov. Gavin Newsom signs it, one labor leader estimated, 1.5 million California workers could get a wage hike come January 2024.
Last year, the union spent about $11 million to promote local $25 minimum wage measures in 10 Southern California cities while hospitals and health care facilities spent $12 million against them. That fight yielded an opposite decision in N …