Culver City Mandated Premium Pay For Health Care Workers Is Bad for Business
June 3, 2021
The City Council of Culver City last week voted in favor of a government-mandated premium pay ordinance for health care workers in the city, and the measure is scheduled for a second vote on Monday, June 14. The so-called “hazard pay” ordinance singles out Southern California Hospital at Culver City and would require the hospital to provide an additional $5 per hour to its workers for 120 days, taking effect on July 14, should the city succeed in their unconstitutional attempt.
If it passes, the proposal would impose a weighty financial burden to one employer. This is fundamentally unfair as it would not apply to comparable businesses. Its passage would open the door to a world in which politicians could reap points by levying new taxes and mandates not only on specific kinds of business, but on individual businesses.
Our health care workers are indeed heroes. We are all indebted to our essential workers and frontline caregivers that have demonstrated an unrelenting commitment to providing care to over 1.2 million COVID-19 patients in Los Angeles County and the tens of millions across the nation. If this ordinance were truly aimed at supporting first responders and frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19, it would also apply to the heroes who work at community clinics, assisted living facilities, and to the City’s own EMTs, police officers and firefighters.
Put another way, should this ordinance pass, Southern California Hospital at Culver City would be the only hospital in California with its very own City or County-mandated pay-rate rule.
Since the outset of the pandemic, Southern California Hospital at Culver City has provided financial incentives to support its employees and ensure their safety. The hospital voluntarily provided this support early on including hourly bonuses; free hotel stays for employees needing overnight lodging; childcare reimbursement; free meals, and more.
As COVID-19 cases trend downward and vaccination rates in the city exceed county averages, we must question the timing of this misguided proposal. By any measure, the elevated threat that hospital workers faced during the height of the pandemic no longer exists.
The proposed ordinance has potential consequences for all Culver City residents. On top of the crippling pandemic-induced finances that exist for hospitals, a multimillion-dollar mandate at this time could damage this specific hospital’s ability to provide critical medical services, and delay or cancel plans to improve programs and facilities. As hospitals begin to emerge from their financial handicaps, now is not the time to further burden them with more government mandates.
Culver City’s proposed ordinance would set a dangerous precedent if it becomes law. If targeted legislation passes, our region’s business landscape would transform from a level playing field to a minefield. It would be an even more polarized environment, roiled by lawsuits, lacking any unified vision for economic growth. We urge Culver City’s five council members to vote NO on the proposal on June 14.