Southern California Hospital at Culver City (SCH-CC) Statement Regarding Lawsuit Filing to Be Attributed to SCH-CC Spokesperson
July 1, 2021
By SCH-CC Spokesperson
Southern California Hospital at Culver City (SCH-CC) has filed a lawsuit against the City of Culver City and the members of the Culver City Council in response to the Council’s June 14 passage of a targeted pay ordinance. SCH-CC is asking the court to issue an injunction that will prevent the requirements of the ordinance from going into effect, or at least delay them pending a final legal resolution. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks to recover financial damages that would be incurred by the hospital, which is already recovering from significant losses during the COVID- 19 pandemic.
We contend the ordinance is the first of its kind to target a single employer and/or hospital. The ordinance requires SCH-CC to increase pay by $5 per hour for 120 days. The ordinance was adopted a day before California fully reopened for business, after the hospital voluntarily provided millions in frontline employee pay and other incentives, and goes into effect long after the pandemic’s imminent daily risk, indicated by inpatient census and new infections reported, had passed.
The ordinance will require the expenditure of more than $2.3 million in additional pay. It is mandated at a time when SCH-CC, like a majority of hospitals in California and across the nation, is focused on recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic. California hospitals are under particular financial duress as a result of the pandemic. These hospitals experienced more than $14 billion in lost revenue in 2020. Total federal support covered barely half ($8 billion) of the losses.
In the lawsuit, SCH-CC:
• Asks the court to declare that the ordinance violates the Constitution’s safeguard of equal protection under the law and impairs the hospital’s contractual rights and negotiations, including the agreement it bargained for with the SEIU.
• Says the ordinance singles out and discriminates against only one employer under the ordinance, while excluding other frontline workers.
• States the ordinance awards COVID-19 government-mandated pay for workers who were not tasked with any frontline duties, while not including other workers, such the hospital’s skilled nursing facility staff and critical care nursing supervisors and physicians.
• Concludes that Culver City does not apply the same rules to itself. The ordinance does
not provide “hero pay” for Culver City’s first responders.
• Confirms that SCH-CC was among a small minority of California acute care hospitals to provide COVID-19-related employee benefits. SCH-CC voluntarily provided the benefits.
• Determines that the ordinance does not serve the stated goal of job retention during the COVID-19 crisis, as there is no longer a state of emergency.
We do believe our frontline health providers are heroes, and deserving of our support, which we’ve provided through financial and other means. The ordinance, on the other hand, reflects an arbitrary and inequitable form of mandated pay, particularly its exclusion of other essential workers, including firefighters, paramedics, peace officers, transit works, government employees, and others in Culver City who played a vital role in serving the community over the more than a year the pandemic defined our reality. The question we continue to ask is why the only “heroes” in Culver City are considered to reside at one hospital when there is so much overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The expense the City will incur responding to this lawsuit would have been better used to pay the heroes in its ranks.
We intend to vigorously fight this unfair and special interest-influenced ordinance even as we take steps to implement it, because we are committed to operating within the law. Although the ordinance indicated the pay increase would take effect July 14 – if the law is upheld by the court – payments will first appear on July 30 paychecks per the hospital’s existing payroll schedule.
We believe we will prevail, as a similar measure proposed at the state level recently failed when lawmakers concluded that the proposed bill would cost already challenged health care employers more than $7 billion.