The Living Wage WORKS for Tompkins County Small Businesses: The Frame Shop

Emily Russell, Owner of The Frame Shop in Ithaca on becoming a Certified Living Wage Employer

For business: “Being a Certified Living Wage Employer has meant lower turnover, increased business, a large applicant pool when we have had to hire, good press, and lots of community support.

For the community: “We’re able to support the community and enable employees to give back as well.”

The Frame Shop owner, Emily Russell, on left, with employee, Will King, on right.

The Frame Shop owner, Emily Russell, on left, with employee, Will King, on right.

ACTION ALERT: Cayuga Medical Center Nurses Need Your Help!!

About six months ago, a number of Registered Nurses (RNs) from Cayuga Medical Center (CMC), came to visit with the Tompkins County Workers’ Center about their desire to form a union of RNs at the main hospital in Tompkins County. After going through a number of options, including the possibility of forming an independent union, the RNs decided to work with the Service Employees International Union 1199, the largest health care workers union in the country. The following is an account by the unionizing RN’s at CMC:

The Registered Nurses at Cayuga Medical Center (CMC) are organizing to form a union at CMC. This is a grassroots campaign which was started and is being led by nurses. We currently have representation from every inpatient and outpatient unit in the entire organization. Why do nurses want to unionize at Cayuga Medical Center? Multiple generations of nurses have shared the same concerns about persistent patterns: under staffing, threats to patient safety, low wages, capricious schedules, arbitrary management decisions, and no meaningful voice in making key decisions. (See more details here.)

Please show your support for the nurses in your community as we work to improve the safety and quality of care we deliver to you. We encourage you to write Letters to the Editor and Op-Ed articles to local publications, and to join the hundreds of community members who have signed our petition (click on Take Action below or here to sign the petition), asking that the Cayuga Medical Center engage in a moral and ethical code of conduct as we approach and carry out our election. Please contact us to find out how else you can support our campaign.

Take Action

Tompkins County: Fight for $15 National Day of Action

On Tuesday, November 10th, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., at Bank Alley (corner of Seneca and Tioga Sts., and across the street from Starbucks) in Ithaca, NY, we will stand as and with all the underpaid Tompkins County residents who work in service and retail jobs across the board to demand a Living Wage for all. If you can attend the event, please go to our Facebook page indicating so.

Several years ago in front of Hotel Ithaca (formerly Holiday Inn).

Several years ago in front of Hotel Ithaca (formerly Holiday Inn).

The Tompkins County Workers’ Center is spearheading a campaign locally that plugs into the national Fight for $15 movement with our own creative version of a Countywide Minimum Wage that is a Living Wage (presently $14.34/hour) for every single worker in the County. With a solid strategic plan to make this happen, working its way through the County Legislature and then State government, we need YOUR HELP to make this a reality!


The Living Wage WORKS for Tompkins County Small Businesses: Cinemapolis

Brett Bossard of Cinemapolis, on becoming a Certified Living Wage Employer

For our business: “We looked at retention, keeping a knowledgeable and enthusiastic workforce. We have a high level of expectations for our staff. They work with the public, and need to be informed and engaged in dealing with our clientele.”

For our community: “It’s an investment in keeping this a vibrant community. We’re making sure that people who work here can afford to live here. And our staff has shown it appreciates that.”

Brett Bossard, Executive Director of Cinemapolis a Certified Living Wage Employer in Ithaca.

Workers’ Center Certifies Two New Employers as Living Wage Bringing Total Up Over 100

(Ithaca) The Tompkins County Workers’ Center is pleased to announce that we now have certified 101 employers as being Living Wage Employers, having just recently added the latest three such employers:

The Namaste Montessori School and Strawbridge and Jahn Builders employ a total of 19 workers; this brings the total of workers, countywide and regionally, who are working for Living Wage Employers up to over 3,068 people.

The Workers’ Center initiated the Living Wage Employer Certification Program in 2006 to publicly recognize and reward those employers who pay a living wage. Any employer in the private, public, and non-profit sectors is eligible to apply. With your help, we can provide incentives for other employers in our community! Please go to to find out which employers are Living Wage-Certified, as well as to download criteria and an application form.

An Assembly of Dairy and Agricultural Workers

El Centro de Trabajadores del Condado de Tompkins y el Consejo de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional les invita a ustedes y amigos/as a este evento sobre Seguridad y Salud en el Trabajo. Para mayor información visite nuestro Blog. osh-flyer1-october-17

The Tompkins County Workers’ Center and the Council of Occupational Health and Safety invites  you and your friends to this event on safety and health at work. For more information visit our blog.

Tompkins County Democratic Committee Endorses $14.34/Hour Minimum Wage in Tompkins

(ITHACA) In a near unanimous vote more than 70 members of the Tompkins County Democratic Committee present at the quarterly Committee meeting on Monday night called on the Tompkins County Legislature to pass a local law seeking to establish the Living Wage ($14.34) as the statutory minimum wage in the County.  The Resolution called for a 4-year phase-in of the increase from the current minimum wage of $8.75.

In speaking for the Resolution, Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said: “It is time for a $15 minimum wage. If you work full-time you SHOULD NOT be living in poverty.” Living Wage Yardsign

The Resolution was introduced by Town of Ithaca Supervisor Herb Engman who was recently successful in encouraging the Town of Ithaca Board to unanimously approve of a similarly worded Resolution. “This is an important step forward,” said TC Workers’ Center Coordinator Pete Meyers, “too many workers in the County struggle daily to make ends meet on wages that are far less than a Living Wage in a County that is in many other ways thriving.”

Sign Petition to Make the Minimum Wage a Living Wage ($14.34/hr) in Tompkins County!

Click on the image below to sign petition!

Living Wage Yardsign

Ithaca Area 8th Most Expensive in Country (Economic Policy Institute)

(ITHACA) A new national study by the Economic Policy Institute ranks the greater Ithaca area (Ithaca MSA) as the 8th most expensive metropolitan area in the country for a two-parent, two-child household (more expensive than San Francisco and only a few notches below New York City).

EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, which includes data for 618 communities throughout the country and is updated through 2014, estimates that a two-parent, two-child household would need $92,603 to attain a modest standard of living in the Ithaca MSA.Both of the adults in this household would have to be fully employed and earn over $22/hour each to manage this family budget. The Calculator also estimates basic family budgets for seven other family types (

The new data highlights in even more stark and disturbing terms how workers in low wage jobs – anything less than $15 or so per hour – cannot make ends meet and struggle mightily and sometimes fail to meet their or their family’s basic needs. According to USDOL figures for 2014, for example, the median wage for four of the more common occupations in the Ithaca area is $8.97 for fast food workers, $9.07 for cashiers, $10.43 for retail sales workers, and $10.97 for home health aides ( matters much worse, many of these workers also face less than full-time or full-year work and unpredictable or on-call scheduling.

“These data show more than ever,” said Pete Meyers, TCWC Coordinator, “how critical it is for our community and our County Legislators to come together now to demand and enact a minimum wage in Tompkins County that is a Living Wage.It is long past due for our local government representatives to pay attention to the needs of so many of our struggling working families. Our situation is more critical than almost anywhere else in the entire country. And we cannot wait for others to do this for us.”

Hundreds of People Attend Labor Day Picnic; Many Awards Given Demonstrating Rising Labor Movement!

Over 400 people attended the annual Labor Day picnic in Ithaca, NY. The picnic has been sponsored for thirty-two years by the Midstate Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. For the past eight years the Tompkins County Workers’ Center has also been a co-sponsor of the picnic, which brings labor and community together to celebrate workers on Labor Day.

The annual awards are always a highlight of the picnic. This year’s theme was “Organizing for Respect,” and the awards reflected that, honoring workers who stood up to organize a union. Labor Movement Logo

This year’s awards

Friend of Labor Award
Coalition for Sustainable Economic Development

Joe Hill Award
Ungkana Charoenkajonchai and Ken Kajonchai/Stephen Wagner/Tom Joyce and Carlos Gutierrez/
Cayuga Medical Center Nurses Organizing Committee

Mother Jones Award
Ithaca College Adjunct Professors/Cornell Grad Students Union/Tompkins-Cortland Community College Adjunct Association/Ithaca Health Alliance Bargaining Unit

Volunteer Awards
Eric Lovett – “Grillmaster for Justice”
Marty O’Hara – “Roadie for Justice”

The “Goat of Labor” is an “award” given to an organization or individual who exemplifies egregious disregard and disrespect for workers’ rights.  This year’s recipient was the Administration of Tompkins-Cortland Community College.

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