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Living Wage Ordinance - Sonoma County Public Hearing June 9


A Living Wage: 

Will Sonoma County  Join 140 Other Communities?

Will Sonoma County  Join 140 Other Communities?

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, among other things, calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage—or living wage—that could benefit up to 5,500 low-wage workers with employment ties to the county.

If approved, the countywide living wage law would place Sonoma County among the 140 cities and counties nationwide 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.

Where do you stand on this issue?

Tuesday, June 9th in the afternoons ession that starts at 2pm, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is set to  consider a $15 living wage ordinance. The hearing will be held at their regular meeting at:
575 Administration Drive, Room 100A, Santa Rosa

If you cannot attend to have your opinion considered, you can write a letter and mail it to your Supervisor at the above address - or email your supervisor - see below.

1st District Susan Gorin  -

2nd District David Rabbitt  -

3rd District Shirlee Zane -

4th Disctrict  James Gore -

5th District Efren Carrillo  -



Op Ed: A Living Wage: Let Justice Roll

By Matt Myres and Reverend Norman Cram 

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, June 9th will consider a Living Wage Ordinance calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour for approximately 5,500 low-wage workers employed by the county and county contractors. Over the last several months, eight faith leaders have presented their perspective on the living wage during public comment at board meetings. We would like to share this “faith perspective.”

Rising Inequality and Low-Wage Workers

The California Franchise Tax Board reported that the wealthiest 1 percent of Californians increased their income by 125 percent from 1987 to 2012, while the bottom 80 percent of Californians had declining incomes. According to the report, The State of Working Sonoma (2013), 30 percent of the county population are “working poor” and reside in families that receive less than $47,100 a year (with at least one family member working).

The working poor in our county do not earn a living or self-sufficiency wage. In Sonoma County, two adults, working full time to support two children, must each earn $20.51 per hour to pay for basic necessities (and without receiving any public assistance) according to the California Budget Project.

The proposed law would cover about 3,800 “In Home Support Service” (IHSS) who currently earn $11.65 an hour and janitors paid $9 an hour, as well as other low-wage workers such as park aides, security guards, landscapers, county fair temps and recycling workers. 

Faith and Justice for the Poor

In response to growing economic inequality and the thousands of struggling workers, the faith community has been at the core of the nationwide “Fight for $15” movement.  There is a rich faith tradition that prioritizes justice for the poor. 

Beginning with scripture, God created the earth and made people in God’s image.  As stewards of God’s creation, we have a right to the things we need to live and we have an obligation to ensure that others have those same rights.   

When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they had been instructed not to mistreat the weakest members of their community, since the Israelites had once themselves been slaves. Prophets, such as Jeremiah, point to injustice as a sign of infidelity to God: “Woe to him who builds his house on wrong, his terraces on injustice, who works his neighbor without pay, and gives him no wages.”  

Jesus of Nazareth identified himself with the weakest persons by asserting that whatever we do or fail to do to the least amongst the people we are doing to Jesus.  Resisting the structures of inequality and the ideology that blames the sick and disabled for their own condition, Jesus healed the outcasts and sent them back into the fold of their community. 

In modern times, many churches developed social teachings. With the onset of industrialization in the 19th century, Pope Leo XIII wrote an encyclical, Rerum Novarum, which addressed the rights of workers: “If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.” 

The United Methodist Church also “recognizes the responsibility of governments to develop and implement sound fiscal and monetary policies that provide for the economic life of individuals.  Every person has the right to a job at a living wage.”

The moral principle of the Living Wage movement is that any person who works full-time has a right to receive a living wage that allows him/her to meet basic needs and not to rely on government services to make ends meet. Government should not be creating poverty jobs.  

Pope Francis recently asserted in his book, Joy of the Gospel, “The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and can only lead to new crisis…Inequality is the root of social ills.”

Numerous cities—including San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Emeryville, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Los Angeles and San Diego—have gone even further, implementing citywide minimum wage laws between $12-$15 an hour covering most low-wage workers.

In Sonoma County, three cities have already passed living wage laws: Sebastopol (in 2003), Sonoma (in 2004) and Petaluma (in 2006).

Justice for County Workers

Members of the faith community campaigning for the Living Wage Ordinance are asking the county why it continues to pay poverty wages to these 5,500 workers.  Moreover, Jeanette Wicks-Lim, a University of Massachusetts Researcher, concluded that the county can afford to provide a wage of $15 an hour and that this wage will only have a modest impact of less than 1 percent of the annual total county budget of $1.4 billion.   

Let’s urge our Sonoma County Supervisors to pass the proposed Living Wage Ordinance of $15 an hour and, as the prophet Amos proclaimed, “Let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an unfailing stream.” 

Matt Myres is the co-chair of the Peace and Justice Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Windsor and is the chairperson of the North Bay Jobs with Justice Workers’ Rights Board. The Reverend Norm Cram is a clergy person of the Episcopal Church and serves as faith organizer for North Bay Jobs with Justice. 

The Board of Supervisors will consider the proposed Living Wage Ordinance at their meeting on Tuesday, June 9th. For more information please go to:


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