California Takes Monumental Step to Stabilize Workforce, Fix Patient Care Crisis
SACRAMENTO, CA – SB 525 (Durazo), a bill creating the nation’s first statewide healthcare worker minimum wage of $25/hr was signed into law today by Governor Newsom. The bill represents a historic agreement between workers and industry leaders that will result in landmark investment in the healthcare workforce and a stronger healthcare system for all Californians.
“Today California is putting a stop to the hemorrhaging of our care workforce by ensuring health care workers can do the work they love and pay their bills – a huge win for workers and patients seeking care,” said Tia Orr, Executive Director of SEIU California. “Californians saw the courage and commitment of healthcare workers during the pandemic, and now that same fearlessness and commitment to patients is responsible for a historic investment in the workers who make our healthcare system strong and accessible to all. We applaud Governor Newsom for signing this bill and making history for California as the first state to lift the floor on health care worker wages to $25.”
Today’s historic action by Governor Newsom results from SEIU members sounding the alarm on the care crisis and championing the bill to stabilize the workforce at every point in the healthcare system, from nursing homes and dialysis clinics to hospitals and community health centers.
“Today’s bill signing marks a historic investment in the people who make health care possible and shape patients’ experience of care. We are medical assistants, housekeepers, nutrition workers, and more, and everyday we see the impact of our state’s healthcare shortage on patients ,” said Mauricio Medina, Unit Secretary at Southern California Hospital in Hollywood. “Workers standing together across all parts of the healthcare system are making sure that care is more accessible and equitable for all, and I’m grateful that Gov. Newsom stands with us. ”
“I am thankful to Governor Newsom and state legislators for listening to workers on the frontlines of healthcare and responding with worker-led solutions that make care better for our patients,” said Lakeisha Gant, Medical Assistant at Families Together of Orange County. “Investing in healthcare workers will allow more of us to live in the communities that we serve, where we share the experiences, language, and culture of our patients. This new law invests in women workers and workers of color and says we are valued.”
“Alongside other hospital workers, nursing home workers, dialysis center workers and staff in clinics, we made our case to our state government and they listened! Governor Newsom signed SB 525 into law because he heard our call for change to a status quo that has left us exhausted and struggling to pay our bills,” said Dr. Kelley Butler, resident physician at San Francisco General Hospital. “I’m proud of our collective advocacy as a union and proud of our Governor for doing right by the California healthcare workforce and the patients it serves.”
According to a recently published University of California Berkeley Labor Center report, a $25 healthcare worker minimum wage would lift wages for about 455,000 healthcare workers.
Three out of four – or 75.4% – of workers who would see increases in wages are women, and 76% are workers of color. Almost half of all healthcare workers affected are Latino.
All healthcare workers who provide services that directly or indirectly support patient care, including contracted workers. This includes medical assistants, certified nursing assistants, aides, technicians, maintenance workers, janitorial or housekeeping staff, groundskeepers, security officers, and food service workers.
SB 525 (Durazo) will establish a statewide healthcare worker minimum wage of $25/hour by raising wages
- at large public and private health facility employers and dialysis clinics to $23/hour in 2024, $24/hour in 2025, and $25 in 2026.
- at public and private hospitals with a high governmental-payer mix, rural independent hospitals, and small county facilities, to $18/hour in 2024, and goes up at 3.5% until it reaches $25 in 2033.
- at community clinics to $21/hour in 2024, $22 in 2026 and $25 in 2027
- at other covered health facilities to $21/hour in 2024, $23 in 2026 and $25 by 2028