Story by Amanda Rodriguez/Viking/Images editor/@arod_mandy

A new labor law could have dramatic impacts on LBCC students in the health fields.

Introduced on Feb. 9, AB 387 is a change to state labor law that will require hospitals to pay at least minimum wage to individuals who are unpaid interns.

The author of the bill Assemblyman Tony Thurmond argued that allied health  professionals are required to work hundreds  of unpaid  clinical hours to successfully complete  their training programs, which creates a barrier for low-income students and working adults.

The California Employment Lawyers  Association argues in support of the bill stating, “Some students are in school 30 to 50 hours a week in addition to their clinical hours and the time they spend studying. Requiring students to contribute substantial hours of unpaid  work imposes an unrealistic burden on individuals with  families to support.”

In opposition, the California Hospital  Association states, “The programs, many of which are offered by California’s Community Colleges, would not be able to offer program enrollment without enough  clinical training placements for students at hospitals.

AB 387 will have the adverse consequence of reducing students’ opportunities to benefit  from hospital-provided training and clinical experience.”

“If the bill passes, LBCC may face a financial impact, placing programs such as the medical assistant and diagnostic medical imaging in jeopardy due to the lack of funding.

Israel Medina, 19, a nursing major, said, “Knowing that we have so many opportunities right now to develop the skills we need before we enter the workforce professionally really helps because, as a student, I need as much experience as I can get.”

Along with many students, allied health professor Richard Dicker completed his first degree with training through an unpaid internship program: “This bill has been introduced at a time when California Community Colleges as a whole have many new initiatives to increase Career and Technical Education program offerings in support of students and communities suffering from a lack of qualified individuals for those jobs.

“Students at our schools know upfront that in order to complete programs like ours that unpaid internships are required for accreditation and certification purposes in their fields.

“This actually could be viewed as part of the maturation process of going from student to paid professional,” Dicker said.

In addition to other schools districts and employers, LBCC has written a letter of opposition to the bill and the state assemblyman who authored it.

Cristina Barker, 18, a nursing major, said, “I’m just worried the cost of the nursing program will increase.”

Students currently enrolled in the nursing program pay about $4,500 per semester.