Gene Hale (Courtesy photo)

The pandemic put into light how critical our healthcare workers are in our local communities. These frontline workers should be adequately compensated for their heroic efforts, not just during the pandemic, but every day. This is why the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce is urging a No on Inglewood’s Measure HC this November.

The measure purports to benefit health care workers via a mandatory wage increase. In truth, the measure actually excludes workers at 73% of health care facilities in the city, including thousands of workers at Inglewood’s community clinics, public hospitals, nursing homes, urgent care centers, mental health facilities and more. The measure applies to non-clinical workers like janitors, housekeepers and landscapers at hospital-based facilities, but excludes clinical workers like nursing assistants, medical technicians, and other workers in non-covered facilities. That’s unequal and unfair.

All workers deserve equal pay for equal work. But under Measure HC, workers who are doing the exact same job every day are completely excluded simply based on their employer of choice. It adds insult to injury for hardworking healthcare workers who are left out, excluded, and totally left behind.

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What’s more, beyond creating winners and losers among our healthcare workforce, the measure will have broader negative impacts that will be felt by the entire community of Inglewood and beyond.

Measure HC will deepen inequities in our healthcare system. It mandates higher wages for certain workers at private hospitals, but excludes workers at community clinics, urgent care centers, Planned Parenthoods, and other providers that primarily serve the uninsured, low-income and underserved communities. This will lead to workforce shortages at smaller clinics and public health facilities. For a workforce still reeling and recovering from the pandemic, creating an unfair compensation system for some, but not all, jeopardizes access and quality of care for our most disadvantaged communities and patients.

Measure HC will also substantially increase costs for patients already struggling with the high cost of living in Southern California. It could risk facility closures or cutbacks in services– putting patient access to care at risk and forcing patients to travel further for vital services like maternity care, behavioral health, cancer care and more.

Measure HC is opposed by the very healthcare workers it claims to help because it is deeply unfair. Excluding 73% of our local health care workers is not the way to show them we support their sacrifices. We all want to pay healthcare workers a fair wage. But this flawed, poorly written and unequal measure is the wrong way to do it.

Inglewood’s Mayor and City Council also had questions about this measure when they debated its merits prior to determining it was best for voters to decide and placing it on the ballot. They noted how important it is to honor health care workers and to pay what they deserve, but they also questioned the impacts to the workers excluded from the measure, creating a who’s in and who’s out economy that the Mayor, in particular, seemed to have concerns over.

We agree with these concerns and believe we need a better way to help our healthcare workers. Please join the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of commerce, local health care workers and health care providers in sending a clear message that we stand with ALL health care workers and are not fooled by this inequitable and unequal measure. Please vote No on HC.

Gene Hale is the chair of the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce.