Proposal would set a minimum wage of at least $25 an hour, nearly $9 above the current Santa Monica minimum wage of $15.96 an hour
By Sam Catanzaro
The Santa Monica City Council has directed staff to draft a minimum wage ordinance for healthcare workers, aimed at addressing a growing shortage of frontline caregivers in hospitals, clinics, psychiatric facilities, and home care services. The proposed ordinance would set a minimum wage of at least $25 an hour, which is nearly $9 above the current Santa Monica minimum wage of $15.96 an hour.
The Council members voted by acclimation to direct City staff to research and draft the ordinance, which largely mirrors a Senate bill that is currently pending in the state legislature. However, some Council members acknowledged that the proposed ordinance could be “irrelevant” if the state law supersedes it.
Mayor Gleam Davis, one of three Council members who placed the item on the agenda, stated, “There is actually a State law that is currently pending that would do this in any event. This is only direction to staff.” Councilmember Phil Brock, who co-sponsored the item along with Councilmember Jesse Zwick, also acknowledged that the state law may supersede the local ordinance.
The proposed minimum wage hike is aimed at recognizing the worth of healthcare workers to the community and addressing the staffing shortages in the healthcare industry.
However, the California Hospital Association, which represents more than 400 hospitals in the state, opposes raising the minimum wage to $25, stating that it will worsen the crisis in the healthcare system, which they claim is already “on the edge of a cliff.”
Councilmember Caroline Torosis, who supports the proposed minimum wage hike, criticized the opposition from the business sector.
“I am not convinced that our health care providers aren’t making a profit here off the backs of their workers. I want to make sure that workers are even getting a modicum of what they need to live in this city,” Torosis said.
The proposed ordinance will be further discussed and refined by City staff before it is presented for formal consideration by the City Council.