Token. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors want to pass a token living wage law, so they'll be able to say to their constituents, "We support a living wage too!" Then they'll move on.
The supervisors say they are for a living wage when it's politically convenient, but the moment someone actually proposes a law to enact a living wage, they say things to the effect of "I do support a living wage but not this one" or "It would be too costly" or, our favorite, "Stop calling us about this!"
Well, sorry, we won't stop calling. The issue is too important. We'll keep pushing for $15 an hour for the more than 5,500 low-wage workers who have economic ties to county government. And we're not alone, as the supervisors' June 9 meeting showed. That day, almost 200 living wage supporters, who represented more than two dozen local organizations, packed the supervisors' chamber, spoke in favor of our proposed living wage ordinance, held signs, cheered and helped us deliver signatures of more than 2,200 county residents—and counting!—who also stand with us.
In the end, the supervisors endorsed an ordinance that would ignore most of the workers ours seeks to uplift. Theirs would exclude more than 4,000 home-care workers, who just happen to be the largest group covered by our proposal. These in-home care workers were out in force at the supervisors' July 21 meeting, and they'll be back this month.
How will the supervisors respond at their Aug. 11 meeting, when they take up the living wage ordinance yet again?
One thing's for sure: Our North Bay coalition will be there in full force, bright and early (the rally is at 8:15am, public comment commences at 9am at 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa) to support a living wage ordinance that doesn't excise most workers from its scope.
And, no, we won't stop calling.
Luis Santoyo-Mejía is lead organizer for North Bay Jobs with Justice, a local coalition of labor, faith, environmental and community organizations.
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