Lawmakers in California approved increasing the state minimum wage for many health care workers to $25 an hour on Thursday as a bill was approved by the state's Assembly and Senate.
The state's Senate passed the bill by a 31-9 margin and the Assembly by a 63-13 vote. Senate Bill 525 now goes to California Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature.
The bill would require companies with at least 10,000 full-time workers to begin paying a $23 minimum wage in June 2024, followed by a $24 minimum wage in June 2025, increasing to $25 in June 2026.
The minimum wage would then be set by inflation rates every year following.
Smaller practices would be required to pay $21 an hour starting June 2024, $22 an hour starting June 2026, and $25 an hour June 2027.
For hospitals mostly funded by government funds or certain rural health care facilities, the minimum wage would be set at $18 an hour with 3.5% annual increases.
The bill also would require those who are not hourly workers to be paid at least 150% of the health care worker minimum wage.
The bill would prohibit cities from implementing their own rules on wages for health care workers.
The California Hospital Association offered its support of the bill after changes were made exempting smaller institutions and those serving rural communities from the highest minimum wage levels.
"Delivering high-quality health care for all is at the heart of what California’s hospitals do, and providing this lifesaving and life-changing care can only be done with the entire health care workforce," the organization said. "As amended, the California Hospital Association supports SB 525 because it strikes a critical balance between supporting workers and protecting jobs and access to care in some of California’s most vulnerable communities."
The current minimum wage in California is $15.50 an hour.
Health care workers are not the only ones fighting for higher minimum wages. The legislature is set to consider Assembly Bill 1228, which could implement a $20 minimum wage for many fast food workers. The new legislation would go into effect in April 2024 if approved.
Lawmakers previously approved a $22 minimum wage for fast food workers, but that law is being challenged by the restaurant industry.
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