Long Beach Adopts $25 Minimum Wage for Private Health Care Workers

Long Beach Adopts $25 Minimum Wage for Private Health Care Workers
Clinicians perform a tracheostomy on a patient in a COVID-19 intensive care unit at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 17, 2021. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously Aug. 2 to boost the city’s minimum wage for health care workers from $15 to $25 per hour—a 67 percent increase.

The new policy applies to workers from private health care facilities including clinicians, certified nursing assistants, janitors, technicians, and laundry workers.

This is “[a] historic and important step forward for these heroes. When this legislation hits my desk, I’ll sign it into law,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia wrote on Twitter.

The new wage will take effect a month after Garcia’s signature.

According to city officials, facilities that are subject to the change include privately-owned hospitals, clinics, acute psychiatric hospitals, dialysis clinics, and psychiatric health facilities, as well as integrated health systems—in which doctors, hospitals, and facilities are organized under one company.

“Just the sacrifices that so many of you have made over the past two and a half years, you deserve to be fairly compensated," Councilwoman Cindy Allen told health care workers who attended the council meeting Tuesday. “This minimum wage increase is about respect and dignity for all of our health care workers.”

The effort was led by Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, a labor union representing over a hundred thousand health care workers in California. The union launched petitions in nine cities and gathered thousands of signatures in Long Beach to put the issue on the Nov. 8 ballot.

However, city officials determined doing so would cost as much as $150,000 and voted to adopt the raise instead.

“Thousands of people support this. For us to put this on the ballot would be a waste of our money," Councilman Roberto Uranga said at the meeting. "I don't see any logic in putting it on the ballot for that reason.”

The labor union initiated the effort due to statewide staffing shortages and said the increase would reduce turnover at hospitals.

"We commend the Long Beach City Council for ensuring health care workers earn a fair wage that reflects their life-saving work and for taking steps to confront the staffing crisis in California’s healthcare system,” Dave Regan, president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, said in a statement.

The union initially sought to include public hospitals in the effort but was legally unable. Instead, they hope the new wage will put pressure on public hospitals to do similarly.

Including Long Beach, there are four Los Angeles County cities that have additionally approved a $25 minimum wage for health workers, specifically the cities of Los Angeles, Downey, and Monterey Park.