California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign legislation Monday soon that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, increasing pay for more than 440,000 healthcare workers in the state.
The proposed hike, which passed the General Assembly on Thursday, will impact 5.6 million California workers, 8% of who are part of the healthcare industry, according to a UC Berkeley Labor Center report.
Public support for the bill quickly swept California after the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West union filed a $15 minimum wage ballot initiative in April 2015, and generated more than 600,000 signatures in support. Dave Regan, president of union, said that less than 2% of the union's 800,000 members earn the minimum wage but they supported the effort because it was "the right thing to do."
Brown announced Monday support and legislation for a $15 wage hike. The legislation passed the General Assembly on Thursday afternoon, and is expected to reach the governor's office by Friday morning.
“If you consider how issues are addressed in the Legislature, this has happened extraordinarily quickly,” Regan said.
Under the legislation, the state's $10 hourly wage will increase to $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2017, and then to $11 an hour in 2018. It will increase by $1 annually until 2022.
The California Hospital Association declined to take an official position at this time considering passage is still pending, a spokeswoman said.
A spokeswoman for the California Association of Health Facilities said in a prepared statement, “We are neutral on the bill. However, we would much prefer the current approach, a statewide minimum wage, that is predictable and funded by the state as opposed to a patchwork of local minimum wage laws that are unpredictable and unfunded by the state.”
If passed, California will be the first state to pass a $15 minimum wage hike. Other states, such as New York, have proposed similar measures, but with pushback.
New York has faced mounting criticism from the healthcare industry for its proposal to raise the minimum wage statewide to $15 an hour. The Healthcare Association of New York State estimated the salary increase could cost hospitals, nursing homes and home care providers $2.9 billion if implemented in 2021.
Home healthcare providers have been the most vocally opposed, claiming such a salary hike can lead them to bankruptcy because a significant percentage of the workforce are minimum wage workers.
Requests for comment from the California Association for Health Services at Home, which represents more than 950 home health locations, went unanswered Thursday afternoon.
Earlier this week, UPMC, the hospital, physician and insurance system headquartered in Pittsburgh, pledged to raise the minimum wage of workers to $15 an hour by January 2021.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center, Tufts Health Plan, an insurer in Massachusetts, all raised their minimum wage levels to $15 an hour this past year.
Geisinger Health System, a cross-state competitor to UPMC in Danville, Pa., increased its minimum wage to a more modest $10 an hour, effective this past September. Ascension Health, one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in the country, boosted salaries systemwide to at least $11 an hour last July.