Local instructor calls for living wage in Sonoma County

In 2016, after years of hard work and dedication, working people won a huge victory: We raised the minimum wage in California. This historic victory put workers on a path to earning $15/hr by 2022 and set the stage for local communities and states throughout the nation to raise their minimum wages, too. Some communities with higher costs of living – like San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles – built on the new minimum wage law and passed legislation and ballot measures to get to $15 even quicker.

Working people in Santa Rosa are now looking to their local elected officials to raise their minimum wage, too. Martin Bennett, a local instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College and the co-chair for the North Bay Jobs with Justice penned a must-read opinion piece in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat to make the case for raising the wage in Santa Rosa:

Coastal California cities have enacted $15 citywide minimums that phase in faster to address the disparity in housing and other costs compared to the Central Valley and northern counties.

A new California Budget and Policy Project report calculates a living wage and family self-sufficiency budgets based on the actual costs of living for each county, including food, housing, child care, health care, transportation, taxes and miscellaneous expenses. A self-sufficiency family budget gives a family an income adequate to meet all basic needs. An expense such as food shouldn’t be sacrificed to afford another, such as housing. Self-sufficiency also means that a family is not reliant on any public assistance programs such as food stamps, Section 8 rental housing assistance, Medi-Cal or federally subsidized Covered California health insurance.

Bennett makes a salient point. While a higher statewide minimum wage is good, it’s still insufficient in some areas, including Coastal California. It’s up to cities like Santa Rosa to raise the wage to an adequate level for its residents, above and beyond the state’s minimum, which is a floor, not a ceiling.

Read Bennett’s full op-ed in the Press Democrat here.

In a community ravaged by unrelenting wildfires late last year, raising the wage would be a much-needed economic boost for the region. Onward to raising the wage in Santa Rosa!