CHA News

Federal Judge to Determine Legality of Health Care Employer Provisions in City of Inglewood Ordinance

What’s happening: In a lawsuit brought by CHA, a federal judge is set to rule on whether portions of an Inglewood ordinance conflict with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).   

What else to know: The ordinance increases minimum wage for health care workers at a broad range of health care facilities yet prohibits employers from using lawful economic bargaining tools to fund the increase. CHA is not challenging the increased minimum wage.  

The “Healthcare Workers Minimum Wage Ordinance” was the result of a 2022 initiative sponsored by SEIU-UHW. The new regulation increases the minimum wage for health care workers at hospitals and certain facilities or entities related to hospitals in the city. It forbids covered health care facilities from taking any of the following actions to fund the increased minimum wage: reducing staffing, altering employee work schedules, or adjusting employee compensation. The ordinance also prohibits health care workers from opting out of the ordinance or its protections, and it allows workers and their unions to sue for violations of the ordinance rather than utilize the agreed-upon grievance procedures in collective bargaining agreements.  These “handcuff” provisions restrain employers from using the usual economic tools of collective bargaining.   

In July 2023, CHA filed a lawsuit in federal court against the City of Inglewood challenging these handcuff provisions (but not the minimum wage) as violating the NLRA. Specifically, CHA argues that the NLRA preempts these zones of activity (compensation and benefits, the ability to hire and fire employees and engage in lockouts, utilization of grievance procedures), prohibiting all state and local enactments that, by design or consequence, regulate or interfere with these zones of activity, as federal labor law intends that they be left to the free play of economic forces in the collective bargaining process. SEIU-UHW intervened in the lawsuit to assist in defending the ordinance. 

Because the issues presented by the lawsuit are purely legal (whether the NLRA does or does not preempt these handcuff provisions), each side has submitted legal briefs arguing their respective positions. The judge is now considering the matter and is expected to issue a ruling no later than April 15. CHA will provide updates in future editions of CHA News.