Join us in honoring NBJWJ co-Founder Martin Bennett
Please join us in celebrating and honoring the work of Marty Bennett as he retires from the organization he co-founded, North Bay Jobs with Justice. The breadth of Marty's contribution to the labor movement, to the worker's rights struggles, and to the passage of several important bills and campaigns around the North Bay cannot be covered in just one-night event. But we will certainly try!
We hope you'll come give Marty a proper send-off, hear from an array of speakers from state elected representatives, workers, community and help ensure the work Marty started can continue on. And don't forget your cash for our raffle prizes!
Doors open at 5:30 for light refreshments and free beer and wine. Dinner will be served. This event is ADA accessible, Spanish translation available, this is a family-friendly event. All are welcome.
Martin Bennett is Instructor Emeritus of American History at Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) in Sonoma County California where he has taught for twenty-five years.
He is Co-Chair of North Bay Jobs with Justice, a community-labor coalition of 20 unions and community based organizations, affiliated with the national Jobs with Justice network. He is also a Research and Policy Analyst for UNITE HERE 2850, a union representing restaurant, hotel, gaming, and food service workers in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is one of the founders of the North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP), a faith-based community-organizing project in Sonoma County affiliated with the Gamaliel Foundation, and he served on the NBOP Leadership Council.
He is also past president of the SRJC/California Federation of Teachers Local 1946 and was a board member of Sonoma County Conservation Action. He writes regularly about labor and civil rights issues for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sonoma Gazette, Beyond the Chron, California Progress Report and other print and online publications.
In 2006 the SRJC Faculty Senate honored him for “Outstanding Contributions and Professional Achievements.” In 2012 the SRJC Classified Senate named him the “Outstanding Faculty of the Year.” In addition, he has received numerous awards for his leadership in the labor, environmental, and civil rights movements. In 2005, the California State Assembly honored him for his civic activism and community service and the North Bay Labor Council (AFL-CIO) presented him the “Harry Bridges Labor Leadership Achievement Award.” In 2015, he was honored as the “Sonoma County Democrat of the Year” by the Sonoma County Democratic Party and in 2016, the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County presented him their annual “Peace and Justice Award.” In 2017, the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute on Citizenship and Democracy at Jackson State University honored him with the “Fannie Lou Hamer Humanitarian Award” as one of the founders of the Institute in 1997.
By Martin J. Bennett The Press Democrat March 22, 2019
The rental housing crisis in Sonoma County is close to catastrophe. Rents spiked 50 percent from 2011 to 2016, then soared 35 percent after the 2017 wildfires — just before Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a one-year, 10 percent cap on rent increases (the Santa Rosa City Council renewed the cap in December). The recent Russian River flood forced hundreds of low-income renter families to evacuate and will certainly intensify the rental crisis.
The state Department of Finance reported that over the 12-month period ending last July 1, more than 2,200 residents left the county. Many low-income renters relocated to more affordable housing markets in Solano, Sacramento, Yolo and eastern Contra Costa counties.
In the 2018 Sonoma County Homeless Census and Survey, more than 10,000 residents self-identified as “unstably housed”— many live with family or friends or without a formal lease. Seventy-two percent of 500 poll respondents identified “unaffordable rent” as the main reason for their lack of permanent housing.
Building new affordable housing is costly and takes years...
Clearly, the fastest way to make rents affordable is to raise the wage floor, and particularly the minimum wage.
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NBJwJ Announces Release of New Report:
“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.
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
Stories From the People Who Make Our Food System Go: Interview with Jesus Guzman about the report “State of Working Sonoma 2018”
By Leland Clark
The State of Working Sonoma 2018, paints a devastating portrait in data of a split in Sonoma County, between the rich and poor, with an economic gap that continues to widen. Prepared by Jesús Guzmán, a graduate of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and a lifelong Sonoma County resident, the report was commissioned by North Bay Jobs with Justice. We spoke with Guzmán to find out more about the story told by the numbers, and the ways that policy and action can shift the tide.
Get ready to punch the clock, local minimum wage earners – the City of Sonoma is thinking about giving you a raise.
That’s where it stood at the close of the Feb. 4 meeting of the Sonoma City Council, when council members voted 5-0 to form a minimum-wage subcommittee to work with city staff to develop an ordinance that would raise the minimum wage in Sonoma to $15 an hour by 2020.
Currently, the state minimum wage is $12 per hour for businesses with more than 25 employees and $11 for businesses smaller than that. According to City of Sonoma figures, of the 1,028 businesses in Sonoma, between 35 and 45 percent have between 2 and 25 employees; 5 percent have more than 25 employees.
Critics have said such wages are part of what prevents the most modest earners from living in higher-priced areas like Sonoma.
“Our economy is in jeopardy if we can’t figure out how to get people to live here,” said Mayor Amy Harrington, who framed the proposed wage hike as part of a broader effort to make the city more affordable to live in. “I think of the minimum wage as a leg of the affordable housing bundle.”
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.
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