“The State of Working Sonoma 2018: A Profile of Income and Racial Inequality, Poverty, and Low-Wage Employment”
On Monday November 19th North Bay Jobs with Justice released this report by Jesus Guzman, MPP.
Despite the prolonged recovery from the 2007-2009 Great Recession, inequality in Sonoma County has soared, median household income has stagnated, and wages have fallen for the bottom 60 percent. The number of families in the county who are working poor has increased since 2005, and the crisis of affordable housing has deepened as renter wages and incomes have not kept pace with skyrocketing rents.
Highlights of the report include:
*One in four Sonoma County residents live in families receiving annual incomes of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line or about $50,200 for a family of four;
*One in five county residents live in working poor families earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line with at least one member reporting income from work;
*Women, Latinos and other people of color experience the highest rates of poverty and disproportionately comprise the working poor;
*A living or self-sufficiency wage for Sonoma County is $23 an hour but about three-quarters of the new jobs created between 2014-2024 will pay less than a livable wage.
*Nearly one in two Sonoma County renter households are rent burdened and pay more than 30 percent of their gross monthly income for rent; one quarter are severely rent burdened and pay more than 50 percent for rent.
*Between 2000 and 2016 median rents increased by 25 percent in the county while median renter incomes rose by only 9 percent;
According to researcher Jesus Guzman who authored the report: “The recovery has left behind a majority of working people in the county and the persistence of class and racial disparities has led to widespread economic insecurity.”
Guzman presented a summary of the report at a forum sponsored by the Alliance for A Just Recovery on November 19th in Santa Rosa.
A report backed by the biggest local labor group predicts a bleak future for Sonoma County’s working class unless policy steps are taken to allow low-income families to get a toehold back into the middle class.
The report was released in conjunction with a Monday night event sponsored by the Alliance for a Just Recovery, an umbrella group of local labor, environmental and faith groups calling for greater resources to be devoted towards low-income families as part of the 2017 local wildfire recovery effort.
The alliance — which includes groups such as North Bay Jobs with Justice, the North Bay Labor Council, Sonoma County Conservation Action and the Greenbelt Alliance, among others — contends lower-paid workers have been disproportionately hurt by the October 2017 wildfires, especially as the housing market got much tighter and more expensive after the fires destroyed of about 5,300 homes in the county.
The alliance wants local cities to adopt policies with a greater focus on affordable housing, rent-control policies, establishment of a public bank in Santa Rosa and area cities to implement a $15-per-hour living wage by 2020, three years earlier than it is scheduled to go into effect at the state level.
“A just recovery must include public policy tools to raise the wage floor, make housing more affordable and create good living-wage jobs,” said Emilia Carbajal, program director of the Graton Day Labor Center.
Will Sebastopol adopt a $15-an-hour minimum wage by 2020?
Sebastopol the kickoff point for county-wide campaign to raise the minimum wage
By E.I. Hillin North Bay Bohemian Nov. 20, 2018
Under the current state law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in April 2016, minimum wage is on track to gradually increase until it hits the mark at $15 an hour in 2023.
Some local labor groups are saying that isn’t fast enough.
“To make housing affordable in Sonoma County, we must simultaneously raise the wage floor and find new revenue sources at the local and state level,” said Marty Bennett, co-chair of North Bay Jobs with Justice. “Raising the minimum wage is the fastest way to make housing more affordable.”
Close to Home: North Bay needs a $15 minimum wage By Martin J. Bennett The Press Democrat Nov. 18, 2018
President John F. Kennedy described an entire generation’s experience when he proclaimed that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” But despite the ongoing recovery from the Great Recession, the boats of most working people in California today — including in the North Bay — are sinking.
In response, a movement for raising the minimum wage is emerging in high-cost coastal California communities.
A new report, “The State of Working Sonoma 2018,” shows that inflation-adjusted wages remained flat for the bottom 60 percent of the county’s workforce from 1979-2016, while wages for the lowest 20 percent of workers dropped 11 percent.
In addition, 20 percent of county residents and 40 percent of Latino residents belong to working poor families — earning less than $50,000 annually, with at least one member reporting income from work.
That many boats are sinking is further revealed by the stagnation of inflation-adjusted median household income, which in 2016 was lower than the 2005 prerecession level of $70,700.
This is part of our regional Raise the Wage!campaign where city councils across Sonoma and Marin counties are using our study to help raise wages. Sonoma City Council and Santa Rosa City Councils have already committed to moving forward with our study session, and we are working with Petaluma and Novato City Councils as well. If you think your city council needs to be included or you want to help ensure this ordinance is passed in your city email us at email@example.com
Just Cause: Grassroots Alliance Announces Plan for Inclusive, Just, Wildfire Recovery
By Brandon McCapes
North Bay Bohemian
July 26, 2018
More than 20 labor, environmental and social- and economic-justice organizations banded together July 19 to endorse the Alliance for a Just Recovery’s 25-point plan to ensure a “just recovery” following last October’s unprecedented wildfires.
The self-described grassroots organization called for unity and action from community members and politicians to address problems plaguing Sonoma County, such as lack of affordable housing, good jobs, living wages, environmental sustainability and equality across language divides. Local city councilmembers and representatives of Congressmen Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman joined more than a hundred other attendees in Santa Rosa’s Christ Church United Methodist multipurpose room, where chairs were added to accommodate the crowd.
In the wake of the terrible firestorm that hit Sonoma County in October of 2017, North Bay Jobs with Justice quickly mobilized community, environmental, housing and labor organizations to meet and form the Alliance for a Just, Equitable and Sustainable Recovery (Alliance for a Just Recovery, or AJR, for short). The Alliance for a Just Recovery meets the first Thursday of every month to review current issues facing our community in regards to the rebuild, and has been working since November of 2017 to put together a policy platform with which individuals and organizations can use to help ensure our community recovers not just for some but for all.
So what IS a Just, Equitable and Sustainable Recovery?
Our Alliance believes that a truly just recovery from any natural disaster requires a holistic approach, and that:
Structural issues of inequality, climate crisis, and racial and environmental justice are part of the recovery and rebuilding process;
The most impacted community must have a meaningful voice at the table of all decisions made;
All recovery and rebuilding processes are transparent, inclusive, and create economic opportunity for low-income communities and eliminate environmental disparities across communities;
Combine our strengths as independent organizations, groups, places of worship, and labor unions to touch on four major areas of recovery and rebuilding: Good Jobs, Affordable Housing, Sustainable Energy and Green Construction, and Community Engagement/Democratic planning.
HOT OFF THE PRESSES AND AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD: "Voices from the Grassroots"This report includes AJR's "Common Agenda" for the recovery, as well as the full text of the entire July 19th forum presentations.
Still Reeling: What Does a Just Recovery Look Like? By Mara Ventura and Martin J. Bennett
North Bay Bohemian July 10th, 2018
Eight months after the most destructive wildfire in California history, many Sonoma County residents are still struggling to recover. Long before the Tubbs fire, widening inequality, increasing poverty, and the expansion of low-wage work had undermined economic security for low and middle-income residents. Moreover, building in high fire risk areas, one of the major causes of the fire, will continue and will increase the risk of another devastating fire...
...A just recovery must include public policy to raise the wage floor, make housing more affordable, and create good living wage jobs...
Give Santa Rosa Renters A Floor and A Ceiling by Martin J. Bennett The Press Democrat July 6, 2018
The county’s affordable housing crisis which was challenging prior to the Tubbs fire, is now on the verge of catastrophe. The county and all cities must adopt new emergency measures and a multi pronged approach to avert the displacement of low- and moderate-income renters.
A 2017 report by the California Housing Partnership Corporation (CHPC) outlines the scope of the crisis. Between 2000-2015 inflation-adjusted median rent in the county increased by 16 percent while median renter income declined by 6 percent. Then, according to the web site Zillow.com, median rents jumped by 36 percent after the October 2017 fires. The CHPC report also indicates that since 2008, federal and state funding for affordable housing in the county dropped by 87 percent.
Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature approved a package of bills last year to increase funding for affordable housing including a $4 billion bond measure that the voters will consider in the November general election. Santa Rosa may also place a housing bond measure on the ballot. However, even if both bond measures are approved, construction will take several years.
The county’s housing and displacement crisis requires immediate action and is compounded by the high cost of living in coastal California and the explosion of low-wage employment.
Dumped On: Republic Service's Union-Busting Tactics Didn't Work
By Martin J. Bennett North Bay Bohemian May 23-29, 2018
On April 18th workers at the county landfill and transfer stations voted to affiliate with Teamsters Local 665 in an election certified by the National Labor Relations Board.
The landfill is operated by Republic Services, the second largest company in the waste management industry with 190 landfills in forty states. The union victory is important for the workers and the entire community.
When the landfills were contracted out in 2013, Republic cut wages by $3 an hour and workers lost their pension benefits.
*Congratulations to Sebastian Mendoza, for his award this year in starting this walkout/march:
Protesters Show Support for Undocumented Immigrants in Santa Rosa March
By Martin Espinoza The Press Democrat March 6, 2018
More than 1,500 immigrants and their supporters marched through downtown Santa Rosa on Monday as part of a national campaign calling on President Donald Trump and Congress to bring permanent relief to undocumented immigrants.
The march, which started at Santa Rosa Junior College, was held on the day the president had hoped to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — an executive order under former President Barack Obama that granted temporary relief from deportation to those illegally brought to the United States as children.
And don't forget to check out our Facebook page for more great photos and video clips from the march!
North Bay Jobs with Justice works with Community Partners to launch Fire Relief Fund for Undocumented Community in Sonoma County
Clean Up and Recovery from the fires is now underway, but the need is still great. NBJwJ is committed to ensuring that our community's recovery is a just and sustainable one for all workers affected by the fires, especially the many undocumented workers who will be unable to apply for resources. To that end, we partnered with NBOP and the Graton Day Labor Center to start a fund with Grant Makers for Immigrants and Refugees to support undocumented children, families and community that have also lost either their homes or places of work. We established UNDOCUFUND.ORG to raise funds for this vulnerable group of workers. Please consider giving generously.
Donate here online: UndocuFund.orgor send a check to: UndocuFund c/o GCIR, P.O. Box 1100, Sebastopol, California 95473-1100