By Emilie St. John
INGLEWOOD — After a lengthy public discussion July 19, the Inglewood City Council voted to place a measure on the Nov. 8 ballot that would raise the minimum wage for certain health care workers in the city to $25 an hour.
The council declined to adopt an ordinance that would have created the minimum wage for health care employees, choosing instead to let the voters decide on the issue.
If approved by voters in November, the new minimum wage would take effect for certain employees working at privately owned health care facilities in the city beginning Jan. 1, 2024. Under the proposed ballot measures, those workers would receive annual cost-of-living increases as well.
“There’s nobody in this building with a greater appreciation for health care workers than me,” said Mayor James T. Butts Jr. “I’m used to being in control and I put my health in the hands of people and I would think everyone I was dealing with made $25 per hour, but I don’t know that.”
Many people called into the meeting in support of the minimum wage increase, urging the council to adopt the measure as the Los Angeles and Downey city councils have already done. Health care workers have filed similar initiatives in Anaheim, Baldwin Park, Culver City, Duarte, Long Beach, Lynwood and Monterey Park.
“Health care workers deserve a fair wage in the city of Inglewood,” said Gabe Montoya, an emergency medical technician with Los Angeles County. “We need to stand with health care workers and pass this as an ordinance.”
“Please stand with health care workers on the minimum wage initiative as if your life depended on it,” Keisha Stewart told the council. “Health care workers deserve a living wage and I urge you to follow suit with Los Angeles and Downey on this.”
“I urge the council to pass this initiative as an ordinance,” said Elliot Petty. “The city is in a rebirth and in California we have a shortage of health care providers who have gone through hell in this pandemic.”
The mayor then posed a question to Petty.
“You mentioned the rise in the economy in Inglewood and all the good things happening and do health care facilities and hospital’s benefit from the increase in sales, property, and ticket taxes?”
“No they do not,” Petty said.
The health care industry also weighed in on the proposed measure they described as “flawed.”
“We provided education, vaccinations, screening and treatment to thousands of our neighbors over the last two years,” said Fred Ortega, director of government relations for Centinela Hospital. “We want to thank the council for requesting an economic analysis to better understand the proposed unequal pay measure for certain health care workers at certain health care facilities.”
Ortega urged the council to place the measure before the voters.
“This measure picks winners and losers among essential workers and we all agree our health care heroes deserve a living wage but this is not the right approach,” Ortega said.
In closing, the mayor reiterated his appreciation for health care workers adding that the council didn’t have enough information to make a law mandating how much employers pay their employees.
“The proper way for this to be resolved is for the unions and hospitals to get together and work this out,” Butts said.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.