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******Media Advisory for January 14, 2017 Workers Rights Board Hearing****

on the Working Conditions of Sonoma County Superior Court Workers

The North Bay Workers’ Rights Board (WRB), a project of North Bay Jobs with Justice, will hold a hearing about the working conditions of Superior Court workers on Saturday, January 14, 2017, from 9:30 am to 11:30 am (doors open at 9:00 am) at the Finley Community Center, 2060 W. College Ave, Santa Rosa.

The Superior Court is an independent public agency, separate from the County of Sonoma. Superior Court workers are represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021. Court employees contend that they have struggled for years with difficult working conditions that include understaffing, increased workloads, failed computer systems, and shortened public hours. These poor working conditions decrease access and erode the quality of services available to the public. In addition, they say that management of the Superior Court employs a punitive and harassing management style that undermines employee morale and contributes to the poor working conditions.

Open and responsive communication between court workers and management is imperative to improve working conditions and public services. The employees have attempted to voice their concerns about the oppressive working conditions and management has not responded. Superior Court judges, who hire top management, have also not responded. Therefore, the Sonoma County Superior Court workers have requested a WRB hearing to educate the public and request that the community become engaged in a process to improve court working conditions and the quality of services.

The Workers’ Rights Board is a public forum where workers can bring complaints against employers for violating their human rights in the workplace. The WRB consists of leaders from labor, faith, and community organizations from the North Bay. The WRB will conduct an investigation of the working conditions of Superior Court workers, including the hearing on January 14th, and then follow up with a written report that will be made available to the public.

Saturday, January 14th, 2017   9:30am. - 11:30 a.m. (Doors open at 9 am)

Finley Community Center
2060 W. College Ave, Santa Rosa

The event is FREE, open to the public and wheelchair accessible. Coffee and refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Matt Myres, vistamar@sonic.net, and 707-508-8875.

 


The Worth of Work

By Judith Wilson
North Bay Biz, October 2016

A bright red and white poster at the entrance to Target in Novato reads Help Wanted. Similar signs are popping up in others areas of the North Bay, often staying there for weeks at a time, suggesting that workers at the bottom of the pay scale are reluctant to apply for jobs in areas where they can’t afford to live. It’s one of the problems that results when a living wage—the amount workers have to earn to pay for necessities like housing and food—exceeds the amount they actually earn by a wide margin. The disparity is something the state of California hopes to remedy with a series of increases in the minimum wage. It seems like a simple solution at first glance, but in reality it’s complex, with issues that make the outcome far from a sure thing.

 Read More


Why $15 Now in California

 by Martin J. Bennett

Sonoma Gazette, July 2016

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed legislation to boost the California minimum wage from $10/hr. to $15/hr.—a 50 percent increase, which will affect more than one-third of the workforce, making the state’s minimum the highest in the nation. This minimum wage hike will be phased in over six years, then automatically adjusted annually to offset rising costs of living.

Immediately after California, New York adopted a $15/hr. minimum followed by the District of Columbia. Legislatures in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are now considering $15/hr. minimum wage measures.

However, a political puzzle needs examination. Last year the Governor and the legislature’s Democratic leadership opposed a $13/hr. minimum wage bill (phased in by 2017) introduced by State Senator Mark Leno.

Why a $15 minimum wage a year later? To answer that question we must analyze the grassroots movement for economic justice that began in the mid-1990s and has now ‘scaled up,’ forcing the Governor and legislature to act.

Read More