Press Releases and Advisories

 

Media Advisory for June 29, 2017  

Contact: Mara Ventura    707-293-2863

Public Forum: Good Jobs and Zero Waste

Santa Rosa, Ca - North Bay Jobs with Justice, Teamsters 665, and the North Bay Labor Council will cosponsor a public forum: “Good Jobs and Zero Waste” on Thursday, June 29th from 7 pm to 8:30 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm) at Christ Church United Methodist 1717 Yulupa Santa Rosa.

Many cities and counties across California and the nation have adopted ‘zero waste” policies to address the climate crisis and the growth of low wage employment in the waste management sector.  Zero waste planning can promote recycling and increased diversion rates from landfill and incinerators and ensure that firms contracting with local government pay liable wages and comprehensive benefits.

At the forum Teamster 665 President Mike Yates will discuss the recent organizing campaign at the North Bay Corporation (Ratto Group) and the vote by 400 drivers, recycling and clerical workers to affiliate with the Teamsters. Yates and waste management workers will explain how unionization will increase compensation for workers and improve health and safety conditions.

Loren Ahkiam senior researcher at the Los Angeles Alliance for A New Economy, a labor based nonprofit, will provide an overview of  zero waste campaigns and policies at the local level in California and discuss what local government in the North Bay can learn from legislation enacted by Los Angeles and other cities.

The event is free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible. Childcare, and translation will be provided and coffee, tea, and dessert provided.

 

For more information please contact:

 Mara Ventura • (707) 293-2863  northbayjwj@gmail.com •northbayjobswithjustice.org

facebook.com/pages/North-Bay-Jobs-With-Justice

Download a copy of the event flyer (pdf) here.


Media Advisory for February 20, 2016                                                                                                                               Contact: Matt Myres, 707-508-8875, vistamar@sonic.net

THE NORTH BAY WORKERS’ RIGHTS BOARD WILL HOLD A HEARING TO INVESTIGATE THE WORKING CONDITIONS OF HEALTH CARE WORKERS EMPLOYED BY SANTA ROSA MEMORIAL AND PETALUMA VALLEY HOSPITALS

The North Bay Jobs with Justice Workers Rights Board will hold a hearing on Saturday, February 20th from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. concerning pay, benefits, and working conditions for health care workers employed by Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley Hospitals. The hearing will be held at Christ Church United Methodist, 1717 Yulupa Ave., in Santa Rosa.  Doors will open at 9:00 a.m.

Santa Rosa Memorial is a large acute care hospital and regional Trauma Center. Memorial has a reputation as one the North Bay’s top hospitals. Petaluma Valley is a district hospital and provides a wide range of health services to the community.  Both of these hospitals are in danger of becoming third-rate hospitals that cannot provide the highest quality of care. The National Union of Health Care Workers (NUHW) that represents health care workers at both hospitals has not been able to resolve numerous contract issues with the employer St. Joseph Health Sonoma County. Noncompetitive pay and potential cuts to health care and retirement benefits has increased employee turnover. Understaffing is also a serious issue at these hospitals.  Increased turnover and understaffing threaten to erode the quality of patient care.  

The union and workers at both hospitals have requested that the North Bay Workers’ Rights Board (WRB) conduct a hearing and investigate their complaints. The WRB is a public forum where workers can bring complaints against employers and institutions for violating their human and legal rights and expectations of fair treatment at the workplace. The WRB consists of leaders and professionals of faith, labor, and community organizations of the North Bay. After the hearing the board will publish a report and provide recommendations to the management of the hospitals as well as to the workers in order to resolve their complaints.

What:     North Bay Workers’ Rights Board Hearing on Health Care Workers employed by SR Memorial and Petaluma Valley Hospitals

When:    Saturday, February 20, 2016 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. Doors open at 9:00 a.m.
Snacks will be provided

Where:  Christ Church United Methodist, 1717 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa

The event is free and wheelchair accessible. Spanish translation will be provided.

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For a copy of the flyer in English, click here. For a copy in Spanish, click here.


Media Advisory for Oct. 22, 2015                                                                                               Contact: Luis Santoyo-Mejía, (707) 346-1187, northbayjobswithjustice@gmail.com

Professor Eileen Boris to Speak on Home Care Workers and the Struggle for a Living Wage
Discussion to Include Update on Sonoma County Living Wage Campaign

Santa Rosa — On Thursday, October 22, University of California at Santa Barbara professor Eileen Boris will discuss the upsurge of organizing and advocacy by home care workers across the nation who are demanding a living wage and an end to the historic discrimination against home care and other domestic workers. Home care workers have joined fast food, childcare, adjunct professors and other low-wage workers in the national “Fight for $15” campaign. As a result, the state legislatures in Oregon and Massachusetts recently approved pay increases to $15 an hour for home care, and the federal courts recently upheld new Department of Labor rules extending federal minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers.

Professor Boris is co-author with Jennifer Klein of Caring for America: Home Health Care Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State. According to the book’s publisher, Oxford University Press, “in this sweeping narrative from the 1930s Great Depression to today’s Great Recession, the authors demonstrate how law and public policy made home care into a low-wage job that was stigmatized as public welfare, and relegated to the bottom of the medical hierarchy.” Furthermore, the book analyzes the emergence of a powerful social movement of care workers—predominantly immigrants and women of color—who have organized and aligned with senior and disability rights movements to form unions, to win increased pay and benefits, and to improve the quality of care for their clients.

WHAT: Eileen Boris speaks on home care workers and the struggle for a living wage and update on the campaign by a coalition of labor, faith, and community organizations to
             win approval of a $15 an hour living wage ordinance for the County of Sonoma that includes 4,000 home care workers

WHERE: Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, CA

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.

WHO: Eileen Boris, Hull Professor of Feminist Studies at UC, Santa Barbara; Sonoma County home care workers represented by SEIU 2015; North Bay Jobs with Justice and
           the Sonoma County Living Wage Coalition     

FREE admission and wheelchair accessible. Coffee, dessert and simultaneous interpretation provided.

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For a copy of the event flyer, click here. For a copy in Spanish, click here.


For Immediate Release for Saturday, August 29, 2015                                                                                                                                       Contact: Matt Myres, (707) 508-8875

North Bay Workers Rights Board to Hold Hearing on Contract Negotiations of In-Home Supportive Service  (IHSS) Workers Employed by the County of Sonoma

Santa Rosa, Calif. -- The North Bay Jobs with Justice Workers' Rights Board will hold a hearing on contract negotiations and working conditions for IHSS (or home care) workers on Saturday, August 29, 2015, from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. (doors open at 9 a.m.) at Christ’s Church United Methodist, 1717 Yulupa Avenue, Santa Rosa.

IHSS workers have requested that the North Bay Workers’ Rights Board review the current state of contract negotiations between the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Workers-West (SEUI-UHW), who represent IHSS workers, and the County of Sonoma.  The IHSS workers are experiencing difficult initial contract negotiations this year with the County of Sonoma concerning wages and benefits – including the County negotiator’s proposal to eliminate healthcare benefits for all Sonoma County IHSS providers.

Approximately 4,500 IHSS workers employed by the County currently are paid $11.65 an hour. Less than one in eight IHSS workers receive employer-provided healthcare benefits. This poverty level compensation, earned caring for County residents who would be institutionalized if not for the care they receive from the IHSS program, limits these caregivers’ ability to patronize local businesses. It also effectively denies many caregivers the access to the care they need to maintain their own health, and it makes it extremely difficult to sustain their best service to the clients they care for in the IHSS program. 

As part of the ‘Fight for $15’ movement led by low-wage workers across the nation, County IHSS workers and a broad coalition or labor, faith, and community organizations have repeatedly urged that IHSS workers be included in the County of Sonoma’s proposed Living Wage Ordinance, with a path to $15 an hour. However, the Board of Supervisors has consistently balked at this request. Marin County IHSS providers were included in that county's Living Wage Ordinance passed in 2004, and the San Francisco County minimum wage approved by voters in 2014 will raise IHSS provider wages to $15 an hour by 2018.  Massachusetts recently raised IHSS workers’ pay in that state to $15 an hour.

The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible and translation provided. Coffee and bagels will be provided. Sponsored by the North Bay Workers' Rights Board and North Bay Jobs with Justice.

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For a copy of the event flyer, click here. For a copy in Spanish, click here.


Media Advisory for August 11, 2015                                                                 Contact: Luis Santoyo-Mejía, (707) 346-1187, northbayjobswithjustice@gmail.com                         

Labor, Faith, Environmental, and Community Organizations to Protest County Supervisors’ Token Living Wage
Proposed Living Wage Legislation Guts North Bay Coalition’s Original Ordinance

Santa Rosa, Calif. — Representatives of more than two-dozen labor, faith, environmental and community organizations will protest outside the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, August 11, to urge the board to substantially revise and amend a so-called living wage ordinance the supervisors endorsed in early June.

As the "Fight for $15" movement continues to score major wins around the country, on June 9th the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a tentative narrow ordinance that, unlike other comprehensive living wage laws in many cities and counties in the region, would cut back the number of covered workers with county employment ties from 5,500 to fewer than 1,000, and would eliminate important provisions to improve job quality for affected workers.

Compared to the living wage legislation proposed by North Bay Jobs with Justice and other organizations last September, the supervisors’ counterproposal would leave out provisions that mandate: 12 paid sick leave days per year; more hours for part-time workers; compliance with labor, health and safety, and environmental laws by contractors; the right of workers to organize a union free of employer intimidation or interference; and protection against the constant erosion of low-wage workers’ buying power by indexing their wage rate to the Consumer Price Index. In addition, the counterproposal would exclude more than 4,500 In Home Supportive Services (home care), mental health, waste management, and county fair temporary workers.

A final vote on the supervisors’ counterproposal could occur at the August 11th meeting. The North Bay coalition of labor, faith, environmental and community organizations that originally proposed a countywide living wage ordinance strongly believes that, without major amendments, the supervisors’ proposal is an ineffective and weak law that will fail to address the crisis of low-wage employment and growing inequality in Sonoma County. At the meeting, coalition representatives will oppose the revised ordinance and, if not amended, urge county supervisors to vote no.  

WHAT: Protest to urge Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to substantially amend and rewrite the living wage ordinance under consideration.

WHO: Representatives of more than two-dozen North Bay-based labor, faith, environmental and community organizations; the coalition anchor organizations include: North Bay Jobs with Justice, North Bay Labor Council, Sonoma County Democratic Party, North Bay Organizing Project, Sierra Club, Sonoma County Conservation Action, and Organizing for Action Sonoma County. 

WHEN: Tuesday, August 11th. Rally outside county administrative building from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. Public statements to the board will begin at 9 a.m. during public comment.

WHERE: 575 Administration Dr., Room 100 A, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

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Download a copy of this event's flyer here.


Media Advisory for June 9, 2015                                                                                         Contact: Luis Santoyo-Mejía, (707) 346-1187, northbayjobswithjustice@gmail.com

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to Consider $15 an Hour Living Wage Proposal
If Approved, County Would Join 140 Cities and Counties across the Nation

Santa Rosa, CA.  As the "Fight for $15" movement sweeps the nation and the Bay Area, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is set to consider a Living Wage Ordinance that mandates a $15 an hour minimum—or living wage—and will benefit more than 5,500 low-wage workers with employment ties to the county.

If approved, Sonoma County will join the 140 cities and counties across the nation that have implemented living wage laws. Of these localities, 33 are in California and include the Counties of Sacramento, Marin, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Ventura and Los Angeles, as well as the Port of Oakland and the San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Los Angeles international airports. Locally, the cities of Sebastopol (in 2003), Sonoma (2004) and Petaluma (2006) have already approved living wage legislation. Several other California counties are currently considering living wage laws, such as Monterey and San Mateo.

Moreover, many cities—including Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego—have gone even further, implementing citywide minimum wage laws covering most low-wage workers. Across the Bay Area, the cities of Richmond, Berkeley, Emeryville, Sunnyvale and Mountain View have approved citywide minimum wages over the last year. Numerous other Bay Area cities are considering minimum wage laws.

WHAT: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to consider a $15 living wage ordinance for the county, large county contractors, and firms receiving economic development 
           assistance or leasing county land.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. (TBD). Check this Web site for updates.

WHERE: 575 Administration Drive, Room 100A, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

WHO: Living Wage Coalition of Sonoma County, which includes North Bay Jobs with Justice, North Bay Labor Council, North Bay Organizing Project, Sierra Club, Sonoma County Conservation Action and the Sonoma County Democratic Party.

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Media Advisory for March 7, 2015                                                                                       Contact: Luis Santoyo-Mejía, (707) 346-1187, northbayjobswithjustice@gmail.com

Community Forum to Spotlight Successful 2014 San Francisco Minimum Wage and Santa Clara County Living Wage Campaigns
Local Activists to Speak on Status of Sonoma County Living Wage Campaign

On Saturday, March 7, guest speakers from across the Bay Area will share their insights and reflect on their strategies concerning two successful economic justice campaigns last year: San Francisco's $15 an hour city-wide minimum wage and Santa Clara County's approval of a $19 an hour living wage ordinance. Additionally, local leaders will speak about the status of Sonoma County’s ongoing $15 an hour living wage campaign.

Last year, living wage advocates in Santa Clara County persuaded county authorities to approve the nation’s most comprehensive living wage ordinance, calling among other things for a $19.06 an hour wage for employees of county contractors. This spring, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on specific policies to implement the main provisions set forth by this ordinance. Farther north, in San Francisco, a coalition of labor and community organizations led a campaign to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour through a ballot measure, Proposition J, which received the support of 77 per cent of voters on November 4. Prop J is expected to raise the wages of 142,000 workers in San Francisco, including homecare workers.

In Sonoma County, a coalition also comprising labor and community groups is calling for a $15 an hour living wage for employees of the county and of employers with economic ties to the county. Such proposal, if approved by county supervisors, would benefit more than 5,500 low-wage workers in Sonoma County.

WHAT: Community forum on living wage and minimum wage victories in the Bay Area in 2014

WHERE: Christ Church United Methodist, 1717 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa, CA

WHEN: Saturday, March 7 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Doors open at 9 a.m.

WHO: Gordon Mar, San Francisco Jobs with Justice executive director
           Louise Auerhahn, economic and workforce policy director, Working Partnerships USA
           Brian O’Neill, community political coordinator, SEIU 521 (Santa Clara)
           María Guillén, SEIU 2012 and Jobs with Justice activist; San Francisco Labor Council
                                   Executive Board member

FREE admission and wheelchair accessible. Coffee, bagels and simultaneous interpretation provided.

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For a copy of the event flyer, click here. For a copy of it in Spanish, click here.


Media Advisory for February 20, 2015                                                                                 Contact: Luis Santoyo-Mejía, (707) 346-1187, northbayjobswithjustice@gmail.com                                                                                                                

Award-Winning Author and Immigrant Rights Activist to Speak on How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration

Writer and photojournalist David Bacon will speak about his latest book, The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration, in Santa Rosa on February 20 at 7 p.m.

In The Right to Stay Home, Bacon, who was a labor organizer for 20 years and is active in the Dignity Campaign, tells the story of the growing resistance of Mexican communities. Bacon shows how immigrant communities are fighting back—envisioning a world in which migration isn’t forced by poverty or environmental destruction and people are guaranteed the “right to stay home.” This richly detailed and comprehensive portrait of immigration reveals how the interconnected web of labor, migration, and the global economy unites farmers, migrant workers, and union organizers across borders.

In addition to incisive reporting, the book includes eleven narratives, giving readers the chance to hear the voices of activists themselves as they reflect on their experiences, analyze the complexities of their realities, and affirm their vision for a better world.

WHAT: David Bacon speaks about his latest book, The Right to Stay Home: How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration

WHERE: Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 547 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, CA (parking available at 7th Street Garage at Mendocino Ave.)

WHEN: Friday, February 20 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Doors open and book signing

             begins at 6 p.m.

WHO: David Bacon and representatives of North Bay Jobs with Justice, Graton Day Labor Center, Comité VIDAS, North Bay Organizing Project, North Bay Labor Council, and the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County.

FREE admission and wheelchair accessible. Coffee, dessert and simultaneous translation provided.

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For a copy of the event flyer, click here. Para obtener una copia del volante de este evento, haga clic aquí.


Media Advisory for January 29, 2015                                                                                                                                                                Contact: Matt Myres, (707) 508-8875

North Bay Labor-Community Coalition to Unveil Report on Unfavorable Working Conditions and Contract Negotiation Impasse Faced by Petaluma Teachers

A North Bay coalition of 17 labor, environmental and other community-based organizations will unveil its report on the contract negotiations and working conditions currently faced by the Petaluma Federation of Teachers on Thursday, January 29 at the Petaluma Regional Library.

The report stems from a public hearing organized by the North Bay Jobs with Justice coalition and held in Petaluma early last month where 9 Petaluma teachers, students and their parents testified about the unfavorable working conditions faced by teachers in the district and the difficulties of contract negotiations between the teachers’ union and the Petaluma City Schools District, in particular its superintendent. A panel composed of local academics and religious, labor and other community leaders authored the report with recommendations on ways to avoid an impasse in negotiations and to improve working conditions.

WHAT: North Bay labor-community coalition issues in-depth report on unfavorable working conditions and difficulties in contract negotiations faced by teachers in the Petaluma 
            City Schools District.

WHERE: Petaluma Regional Library, 100 Fairgrounds Dr., Petaluma, CA

WHEN: Thursday, January 29 at 4 p.m.

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For a copy of the final report, click here.


Media Advisory for Jan. 13, 2015                                                                                                                           Contact: Luis Santoyo, (707) 346-1187, luis.santoyo@gmail.com

Rohnert Park City Council to Hold Final Hearing on Proposed Walmart Expansion
Local Coalition of Labor, Environmental and Community Organizations to Hold Mass Mobilization in Response

On January 13, the Rohnert Park City Council is set to decide whether to approve or halt Wal-Mart’s plan to expand its Redwood Drive store into a Supercenter, that would offer supermarket items in addition to retail merchandise. A Sonoma County coalition of labor, environmental and community organizations plans to mobilize a large contingent of local and Bay Area allies to express their continued opposition to the expansion.

After a four-year legal battle over the project’s environmental impacts, the City Planning Commission approved the large retailer’s plans in August. In 2011, the Sierra Club and Sonoma County Conservation Action, both members of the local coalition, won a partial court victory requiring a more exhaustive environmental review of the project.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the largest newspaper between San Francisco and the Oregon border, recently called Wal-Mart’s expansion project in Rohnert Park “one of the most divisive issues in the city’s 50-year history.” Presently, there are no Wal-Mart Supercenters in the North Coast, which includes Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.

WHAT: Rohnert Park City Council’s last hearing on proposed Walmart Supercenter; local
            coalition to organize mass, Bay Area-wide mobilization in opposition.

WHEN: Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at 5 p.m.

WHERE: Rohnert Park City Hall, 130 Avram St., Rohnert Park, CA

WHO: North Bay Jobs with Justice, North Bay Labor Council, Sonoma County Conservation Action, Sierra Club, North Bay Organizing Project, and other regional labor, faith,
           and environmental organizations.

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For Immediate Release
Monday, December 1, 2014

Contact: Matt Myres, North Bay Jobs with Justice Workers' Rights Board, 707-508-8875

North Bay Jobs with Justice to Hold Hearing on Contract Negotiations and Working Conditions for Teachers in Petaluma City Schools

Petaluma, Calif. -- The North Bay Jobs with Justice Workers’ Rights Board will hold a hearing on contract negotiations and working conditions for the Petaluma Federation of Teachers on December 11, 2014, at 6:00-7:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 pm) at the Woman’s Club Building in Petaluma, 518 B Street. Coffee, tea, and dessert will be provided.

The Petaluma Federation of Teachers (PFT) have requested that the Workers’ Rights Board review both the current state of contract negotiations between the union and the district and working conditions within Petaluma City Schools. PFT has been unable to resolve contract issues with the Superintendent and the Petaluma City School District resulting in unfair working conditions that could undermine quality education in Petaluma City schools.

The Workers’ Rights Board is a public forum where workers can bring complaints against employers for violating their rights in the workplace. The Workers Rights Board is a project of North Bay Jobs with Justice, a community-labor coalition comprised of fourteen labor and community organizations and affiliated with national Jobs with Justice.

The Workers’ Rights Board consists of community leaders who have experience with workers’ rights issues and public education. The board will hear testimony from teachers, parents, and other community members about workers’ rights and management of the Petaluma City School District. The board will make recommendations to the Petaluma teachers and to the Petaluma City Schools Superintendent and School Board. The intent of the hearing is for the community to learn about the issues, and for community leaders to provide the district and teachers with suggestions and possible new directions to resolve contract issues in order to maintain standards and quality education in the district.

The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

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Media Advisory for Nov. 28, 2014  

Contact: Luis Santoyo, (707) 346-1187, luis.santoyo@gmail.com

North Bay Coalition to Join Nationwide Black Friday Protests at Rohnert Park Walmart

Close on the heels of an unprecedented sit-down strike at Walmart in Los Angeles, a North Bay coalition of labor and community organizations will join the growing nationwide movement for a living wage and full-time work at America’s largest private employer--and will participate in a demonstration outside the Rohnert Park store on Black Friday, November 28.

Coalition members will be among tens of thousands of people demonstrating at more than 2,200 Walmart locations across the country and calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour for Walmart workers; access to consistent, full-time work; and an end to gender discrimination in regard to pay and promotions. In addition, the local organizations—among them the North Bay Jobs with Justice alliance, Unite Here Local 2850, the North Bay Labor Council and the Sonoma County chapter of the National Organization for Women—will advocate for the right of Walmart workers to organize and will oppose the proposed expansion of the Rohnert Park store to become a super center selling both groceries and general merchandise.

On November 14, the day after Walmart workers participated in an unheard-of sit-down strike at two Los Angeles store locations, the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, a group of Walmart employees backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, called for a nationwide strike against the retailer on November 28. Black Friday 2014 will mark the third year in a row Walmart employees around the country have walked off the job during the biggest shopping day of the year.

OUR Walmart has pointed to the company’s implementation of a new scheduling system to pick up open shifts and its public commitment to raise the wages of its lowest paid employees as signs that its mobilizations are already having on impact on the country’s largest retailer.

WHAT: Support for a living wage and full-time work for Walmart workers; oppose the expansion of the Rohnert Park store to become a super center.

WHEN: Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: 4625 Redwood Dr., Rohnert Park, CA (in Walmart parking lot)

WHO: North Bay Jobs with Justice, the North Bay Labor Council, Unite Here Local 2850, the Sonoma County chapter of the National Organization for Women, and others.

For more information on the nationwide protests and OUR Walmart, please visit http://blackfridayprotests.org/ and http://forrespect.org/ .

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Please be advised that on Tuesday, January 13 at 4:30 p.m. the Rohnert Park City Council (130 Avram Ave.) will consider the revised Environmental Impact Report for expansion of the Rohnert Park Walmart into a Supercenter. Please hold the date. More details forthcoming.


For Immediate Release

Contact: Marty Bennett, (707) 540-1420,  mbennett@vom.com

Monday, Sept. 8, 2014                                                          

Sonoma County Coalition Unveils Countywide Living Wage Proposal and Study of its Fiscal Impact

Report Finds Ordinance Would Have “Small” Impact on County’s Budget and “Modest Cost Increase” for Covered Businesses

Santa Rosa, Calif. — A Sonoma County coalition of labor, faith, environmental and community organizations publicly unveiled today a living wage ordinance that, among other things, calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage—or “living wage”—that could affect up to 5,000 currently low-wage workers with employment ties to the county. The event also included the release of an independent study of the costs and benefits to the county associated with the proposed ordinance. The coalition—which includes North Bay Organizing Project, North Bay Jobs with Justice, North Bay Labor Council, Sierra Club, and Sonoma County Conservation Action—plans to propose the living wage law to the county’s Board of Supervisors this fall.

Mandating a $15 an hour minimum wage tied to the Consumer Price Index annually, the proposed law would cover regular county employees; In-Home Supportive Service workers; county service contractors with contracts of at least $20,000, in the case of for-profit firms, or $50,000, in the case of nonprofits; lease, concession and franchise agreement holders with gross receipts greater than $350,000; and recipients of business subsidies from the county exceeding $100,000. Employers would have to work at least two days a week on county contracts to fall under the legislation.

The 8-page ordinance would also entitle covered employees to 22 days off per year (12 paid and 10 unpaid), promote full-time work among current employees, strengthen employee retention, seek to establish labor harmony at the workplace, and favor county service contractors with a record of compliance with labor, health and safety, and environmental regulations.

“By approving the proposed ordinance the Board of Supervisors can provide the leadership and vision necessary to address the growing inequality and crisis of low-wage work in the county,” said Marty Bennett, co-chair of North Bay Jobs with Justice.

In addition to local elected officials and representatives of local organizations, the event included the author of a 50-page study of the fiscal impact of the proposed ordinance on Sonoma County. In her report, Dr. Jeannette Wicks-Lim, assistant research professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, wrote:

“The living wage ordinance will impose a relatively modest cost increase for covered businesses, typically in the range of 0.2 percent to 4.5 percent of their total revenue, depending on their industry. Costs transmitted to the County will be smaller still, equal to less than 0.03 percent of the County’s total budget of $1.4 billion or 0.1 percent of the County’s General Fund of $390 million for FY2014-15. … This increase in County spending, including the costs for all [covered workers except In-Home Supportive Service workers], amounts to less than $3 annually per Sonoma County household.”

When taking all covered workers into account, including IHSS workers, Wicks-Lim found that a $15 minimum wage “would have a small impact on Sonoma County’s fiscal budget, in the range of 0.4 percent to 0.9 percent of the total budget (or 1.6 percent to 3.1 percent of the General Fund). An increase in government spending of this size is equal to $37 to $73 per Sonoma County household.”

If approved, the countywide living wage law would place Sonoma among the 140 cities and counties around the country with similar laws already in the books. Of these localities, 33 are in California and include the Counties of Sacramento, San Francisco, Ventura, Los Angeles, Marin and Santa Cruz, as well as the Port of Oakland and the San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles international airports. Two cities, San Francisco and San Jose, have gone even further, implementing citywide minimum wage laws covering most low-wage workers.

In Sonoma County, three cities—Sebastopol (in 2003), Sonoma (2004) and Petaluma (2006)—have already passed living wage laws. In 2014, the living wage rate in Sebastopol is $16.13 an hour; Sonoma is $15.76 an hour; and in Petaluma $15.32 an hour. In each city the mandated hourly rate is lower if covered employers provide medical benefits worth at least $1.50 an hour.

“I was a member of the city council in 2006 when we passed our living wage ordinance,” Petaluma Mayor David Glass said. “Subsequently, the law has proven to be good public policy with only modest costs to the city—I am proud to say that Petaluma is a living wage city.”

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