Fast food, health care workers to get substantial raises

Megan Mojica
Staff Writer 

This year all workers in California saw a minimum wage increase to $16 effective Jan. 1, but two different industries will soon be getting a higher raise.

Fast-food workers will see an increase to $20 an hour beginning in April, and health care workers will see varying increases effective June 1.

The wage increases are the result of two bills passed into law last year, Assembly Bill 1228 and Senate Bill 525. 

Assembly Bill 1228, by Assemblymember Chris Holden, a Democrat whose district includes the University of La Verne, establishes a fast food council that will help ensure fair working conditions, safe standards and adequate living conditions for workers. 

Willie Armstrong, chief of staff for Holden, said they hoped to make a positive change for fast food workers.

“The goal would be to improve working conditions for them, to give them a safe space where they can voice those grievances without fear of retaliation,” Armstrong said. 

The law is meant to give fast food workers a livable wage and avoid wage theft. 

“Now these are adults with two, three kids that are trying to live off that,” Armstrong said. “So this bill helps them in terms of creating a livable wage.” 

McDonald’s shift lead Kassandra Encizo said she personally knows some of her coworkers would benefit from the wage increase. 

“I know for some people making more money would help them for sure, with what they’re going through besides work,” Encizo said.

The new wage may also come with some down sides, however, Encizo said.

“They cut hours, they don’t schedule people and it affects us,” Encizo said.

Ryan Lee, assistant professor of economics at La Verne, said the new law is both good and bad. 

“In some ways we’re going to give money to people who need it the most, it will probably hurt the profits of some companies,” Lee said. 

Lee projects that negative impacts can include laying off workers, cutting back on hours, companies eating the costs, or it eating into their profit margins. 

This is especially important to franchisees, who were initially against the legislation.

Jeff Hanscom, vice president of state and local relations at the International Franchisee Association, said franchisees are concerned about being able to keep the lights on due to the cost of labor increasing. 

“Obviously their concern is also if my cost of labor goes up significantly then I’m going to have to make that number up somehow, and the most obvious way to make it up is food prices,” Hanscom said.

Franchisees will have to make adjustments to ensure profitability, but they avoided a far worse outcome. Workers opted for sectoral bargaining rather than unionizing. 

“They may not like the higher minimum wage. They have to pay, but they avoided the worst case scenario for them as companies,” Lee said. 

Pushback and obstacles are not unfamiliar to the health care market increase either.

California Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, wrote Senate Bill 525, but faced some opposition in the beginning due to unclear parameters. 

The law will give four different health care groups different time frames for wage increases based on their finances and type of employer. 

“Rather than treat them all as one single industry we looked deeper into the various sectors of the health care industries and then had those conversations,” Durazo said. “So what they really needed, what was impacting them financially, and broke it down.”

Large health care systems with 10,000 or more full-time employees and dialysis clinics will implement an increase to $23 on June 1 and increase a dollar a year over the next three years. Smaller facilities will get to $25 an hour by June of 2028. 

High public payor facilities will start at $18 an hour beginning in June and get a 3.5% increase every year until $25 an hour is reached. Community clinics will begin at $21 an hour this summer and reach $25 by 2027. 

The law was inspired by the role health care workers played during the pandemic, the health care worker shortage, and to value women and women of color, who make up a large portion of these workers. 

Health care workers are not the only ones who will benefit from this wage increase. 

“It should help Californians in general because they will be able to attract more health care workers, we’ll be able to retain more health care workers, and without a doubt that helps our patient care,” Durazo said. 

The new law is the first of its kind in the country and will provide California with an extra edge. 

Although the law has faced some delay from the governor the initial wage increases will still take place this year. 

Megan Mojica can be reached at megan.mojica@laverne.edu.

Megan Mojica, a junior broadcast journalism major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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