Backroom deal to alter earthquake requirements in California hospitals collapses

A secretive deal between a gaggle of hospitals in search of to weaken seismic upgrades at medical facilities and an influential union seeking to improve the pay of workers collapsed on Tuesday, simply days after it was made public.

The last-minute alliance between Service Staff Worldwide Union-United Healthcare Employees West and the California Hospital Assn. infuriated different unions, which accused the unlikely pair of making a backroom deal that skirted the legislative course of and put sufferers, healthcare staff and communities in danger.

In a hospital affiliation memo obtained by The Occasions, the group stated the cope with SEIU-UHW got here collectively shortly and adopted years of stymied makes an attempt to delay a state legislation that requires hospital buildings to have earthquake upgrades by 2030. Hospitals estimate that these upgrades will price $100 billion, a tab they are saying is prone to end in closures throughout the state.

Earlier than the deal emerged, the hospital affiliation and SEIU-UHW had been locked in a fierce battle over elevating the minimal wage in Los Angeles County for hospital staff. The settlement between the 2 would have required lawmakers to log off on the deal earlier than the tip of the legislative session Aug. 31.

The California Hospital Assn. sought a seven-year delay to the 2030 requirement and to restrict the requirements to hospital buildings that present emergency providers, in keeping with a draft of the proposal obtained by The Occasions.

In trade, unions would see the minimal wage for healthcare staff raised to between $19 and $24 an hour starting Jan. 1, with the upper pay going to staff in counties designated as city or semi-urban. Pay would have elevated by $1 an hour in 2024, bringing the hourly minimal wage for some staff to $25.

SEIU-UHW on Tuesday accused the hospital affiliation of strolling away from “a conceptual settlement” over labor-related provisions. In response, the union introduced that it will as an alternative pursue the statewide minimal wage for healthcare staff that it sought within the deal via the state Legislature or a poll measure.

The hospital affiliation wrote within the memo that the deal “was not capable of advance this 12 months on account of a number of components together with excessive stakes, a brief timeline, CHA’s dedication to not conform to adjustments that may erode the protections this proposed invoice included, and different teams of organized labor in opposition.”

“We all know that this technique created troublesome and typically controversial discussions,” the hospital affiliation’s memo stated.

Practically all hospital buildings within the state met seismic requirements below a 1994 legislation meant to make sure that none collapsed throughout a significant earthquake. The legislation was handed after that 12 months’s Northridge earthquake, which precipitated critical injury to hospitals.

Beneath the identical legislation, a better normal — that hospitals not solely stay standing however be capable of function after a significant earthquake — must be met by 2030. Practically three a long time later, nearly two-thirds of California hospitals have but to satisfy the 2030 necessities, in keeping with the hospital affiliation.

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