Healthcare workers in California could soon see a boost in their hourly pay thanks to a new wage hike signed into law this week.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed a bill Friday authored by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, a Los Angeles Democrat, securing a higher minimum wage that labor unions have lobbied for for years. Some workers will receive a pay increase to $25 an hour, but not all will. The bill has tiers of wage hikes for businesses based on the number of employees at a facility, the population it serves and the services it provides.
Most wage increases start June 1, according to the law.
The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West called the law a historic achievement and said California’s new wage is the first healthcare-specific mandate.
“For all the dedicated healthcare workers who are struggling to pay bills and support themselves and their families, higher pay will make a huge difference in their lives,” the union said in a statement. “Raising wages means that workers who were considering leaving can stay and new workers will be attracted by the higher base pay.”
The legislation comes as Kaiser Permanente and unions representing thousands of employees reached a tentative agreement with pay raises and higher minimum wages.
Part of Kaiser’s proposed agreement includes a 21% wage increase over four years for existing workers, establishing a $25 minimum hourly wage for California workers and $23 for employees elsewhere in the nation, Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions and Kaiser Permanente said.
It covers 85,000 workers in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. A vote will begin on Oct. 18. If ratified, the contract will be retroactively effective Oct. 1.
Healthcare isn’t the only industry seeing a wage hike. Newsom signed a minimum wage increase for fast food workers into law on Sept. 28. Starting April 1, those workers will see wages increase to $20 an hour, up from the $16.21 state average.
Newsom signs, vetoes other measures
Newsom signed a handful of other bills in the past few weeks aimed at helping families find missing Black residents, bolstering LGBTQ+ rights, banning food additives and raising taxes on gun sales. He signed over 50 bills as California’s legislative session came to an end.
The governor also cast several vetoes during the session, one of which drew controversy as people sought assurances that custody courts would ensure parents’ affirmation of a child’s gender identity during custody and visitation arrangements. He also vetoed another bill that would’ve limited the price of insulin.
Contributing: Ken Alltucker, Eric Lagatta, USA TODAY; Associated Press.