News

Wine, Cheese, and Beer Reception: Celebrating Winners of TCWC Living Wage Visioning Contest: Friday, 10/7 @ 5 p.m.

The Tompkins County Workers’ Center Announces a Wine, Beer and Cheese Reception to Celebrate the Three Winners of the first-ever ‘Living Wage Visioning Contest‘ on Friday, October 7th from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. in the Cafe Above Autumn Leaves Used Books on The Commons in Ithaca. The event is also fully situated within the Downtown Ithaca Alliance’s First Friday Gallery Night. (Sign in to the Facebook event!)

tcwc-living-wage-contest-fb-adThe Contest entry period was from July 1, 2016 through September 15, 2016. Contestants were asked to produce an original creative work that gave artistic voice to their vision of how their life and the life of their family would change if they were paid a Living Wage. The eighteen (18) forms of creative work are incredibly heartfelt and expressive of the Contestants’ experiences and feelings. Entries included a dance video, a recorded song, visual arts, posters, poems, and short stories. ALL entries will be available for view at the Wine, Beer and Cheese Reception. Wine donated by Certified Living Wage Employer, Red Feet Wine Market & Spirit Provisions!

The first place winner is receiving $1,250; second place winner will receive $750; and third place, $500.

Thanks to Sustainable Tompkins’ Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program and the Kathy Yoselson Fierce Determination Fund of the Community Foundation of Tompkins County for helping to make this Contest possible!

Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes Certified as a Living Wage Employer Bringing Total Up to 96

(ITHACA) Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes has a history of providing accessible quality health care, honest education, and fearless advocacy to communities of Tompkins, Chemung, Steuben and Schuyler counties since 1968. The Tompkins County Workers’ Center is pleased to announce that this important community institution has earned certification as a Living Wage Employer.

Karen Fritz, PPSFL’s Human Resources Manager, explains why the organization which employs 60 people decided that it was important to pay a Living Wage and seek certification:

“We are deeply committed to equitable pay and providing a Living Wage to all of our staff across our four county service area. Planned Parenthood’s mission is based on providing equal access and removing barriers to care while making sure everyone in our community can get the excellent, high quality health services they deserve. By providing a Living Wage we believe we are adding to our mission and proudly standing side by side with other community employers to help lift people out of poverty, help low-income families make ends meets, and remove barriers for individuals and families to live full and healthy lives.”

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Where Labor and Civil Rights Meet: Over 500 People At 33rd Annual Labor Day Picnic in Ithaca: List of Awards

Over 500 people attended the Tompkins County Workers’ Center and Midstate Central Labor Council’s 33rd Annual Labor Day Picnic @ Ithaca’s Stewart Park on Monday, September 5th. The Picnic organizers focused on the theme: Labor Rights are Civil Rights highlighting the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement locally. The Guest Speaker was Professor Russell Rickford of Cornell University,and also a leader in the Black Lives Matter Ithaca movement. Incredible music was provided by Colleen Kattau and Mike Brant (Gringa Grooves from the Heart), as well as Ithaca-based rap artist, Sammus also a leader in the Black Lives Matter Ithaca movement.

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BIG NEWS! NLRB Rules That Grad Students Are Employees

The Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC) is very heartened by the decision of the National Labor Relations Board to formally recognize private sector graduate students as employees under federal labor law. The TCWC looks forward to working with Cornell graduate students as they seek union representation.

Cornell Graduate Students United, the union for graduate workers at Cornell University, have been an incredibly active force for organizing students at Cornell, and supportive of larger efforts for workers organizing throughout Tompkins County and the region.

[From American Federation of Teachers press release]: The decision in Columbia University to reverse a controversial ruling of the George W. Bush-era board will add momentum to the large-scale graduate organizing effort at Cornell’s Ithaca and Geneva, N.Y., campuses and will help build on CGSU’s positive and productive relationship with the Cornell administration.

Ibrahim Issa, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering at Cornell, said “I congratulate the graduate workers at Columbia University, and I believe that this decision will help improve grad workers’ lives. The ability to unionize will help tighten our graduate community and create a common platform where we can work to defend our rights.”

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Creating Our Sustainable Future: Living Wage Visioning Contest

(ITHACA) The Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC), with support from the Sustainable Tompkins Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program, announces its first-ever “Living Wage Visioning Contest“.  The Contest is open to Tompkins County residents or non-residents 17 years or older who work in the County.  (The current Tompkins County Living Wage for a single individual is $14.34/hour assuming full-time work.) Entries will be accepted from July 1, 2016 through September 15, 2016, with winners announced on September 30, 2016.

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The first place winner will receive $1,250; second place winner will receive $750; and third place, $500.

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CALL TO ACTION: SWEAT Bill in NYS Legislature to Stop Wage Theft

Almost six years ago, a young woman, Ana Ottoson, working at the Green Cafe in Collegetown in Ithaca, brought to our attention at the that a number of her coworkers from Central America and Mexico were being severely cheated out of their wages. We quickly got in touch with our contacts at the NYS Dept of Labor’s (NYSDOL) Immigrant Policies and Affairs Division about this fact and an investigation commenced immediately of both the Collegetown store as well as the New York City store, uncovering over $1 million in Wage Theft. The NYSDOL was never able to recover these back wages as the owners had gone underground.

Now a coalition of Workers’ Centers and other like-minded organizations in New York (both downstate and Upstate) are working to get the SWEAT (Securing Wages Against Theft) Bill passed which would make it easier to collect on fly-by-night employers who leave their workers hanging for such large amounts of money.

CALL TO ACTION!

Two weeks ago, the SWEAT bill passed the Assembly, now we need your help to get it passed in the Senate. Urge Leader Flanagan to put the SWEAT bill, S2232 on the floor for a vote now! (The Legislative Session ends THIS THURSDAY.)

Call (518) 455-2071 and ask to speak to someone about a request for the Senator to push for a bill to be put on the floor for a vote.

Here’s what you can say:

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Cornell Graduate Employees, Cornell Administration Ink Election Pact

Agreement Is Significant Step Toward Historic Election for Graduate Employees at Private University [Taken from Cornell Graduate Students Union website]

ITHACA, N.Y.—The labor union for graduate employees at Cornell University, Cornell Graduate Students United, announced today it has signed an agreement (link is external) with the Cornell administration that sets out a clear path for a campuswide union campaign and election for about 2,300 graduate employees. The pact could open the way to one of the few collective bargaining agreements for graduate employees at a private university.

The code of conduct, while not granting neutrality as requested by CGSU and its affiliates, New York State United Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, creates formal election procedures, voter eligibility guidelines and a dispute resolution mechanism to help guide the election process. A joint Union-Management Committee, comprising representatives of both the university and CGSU, will be formed to answer inquiries from members of the Cornell community and address issues as they arise. CGSU

By clearing a path forward, the agreement sets out concrete steps to achieving a productive labor-management relationship as the graduate assistants move toward recognition as Cornell workers with a real say over the terms and conditions of their employment.

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Verizon CEO Protest March and Rally in Ithaca Saturday CANCELLED: Unions and Verizon Reach Agreement

Saturday’s march and rally organized by the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC) and the CWA (Communication Workers of America) in support of striking union members at Verizon has been called off as the unions and Verizon have come to “an agreement in principle” on a new contract.

The CWA is pleased with the agreement. According to the Union: “Striking CWA members have achieved our major goals of improving working families’ standard of living, creating good union jobs in our communities and achieving a first contract for wireless retail store workers.”  For the full statement see http://www.cwa-union.org/news/releases/striking-verizon-workers-win-big-gains

Jake Lake, President of CWA Local 1111 that represents a good portion of the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes, had this to say: “Thanks to all the members, families, other labor unions, coalition partners, and the general public for the outstanding support in our fight for a fair contract against Verizon. When we stand together and fight, we win!”

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Saturday, 11-5: National Kids and Families Day of Action: Join TCWC to Stand Against Verizon’s Corporate Greed!

Please join the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC) as we stand together against corporate greed and in support of middle class jobs in solidarity with workers from CWA (Communications Workers of America) who are on strike at Verizon. Their battle is our battle too and they need our help. (See fact sheet here.)

Less than a week ago, the TCWC began it’s ongoing solidarity support with the CWA which we ALSO see as building a public and community space for the larger labor movement (both organized and un-organized) to gather together. The excitement at these ‘actions’ is palpable.

We will be standing with these workers and against corporate greed at the Verizon Wireless store in Ithaca, NY (only one of four corporately-owned stores in the Southern Tier), 720 S. Meadow Street in the Tops Plaza at the following times:

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Workers’ Center Certifies Two New Living Wage Employers: The History Center in Tompkins County and IBEW Local #241

(Ithaca) The Tompkins County Workers’ Center is pleased to announce that it has now recognized 107 area businesses and organizations as Certified Living Wage Employers, with the addition of an historic non-profit and an anchor union in the Ithaca community, and the nine workers at these organizations.

The History Center in Tompkins County traces its origins back to 1863 when Ezra Cornell founded Ithaca, New York’s first historical society. While it has evolved through many guises and incarnations during the 153 years since, it represents successive generations of people who have worked together to preserve and share this community’s local history. LWE

Rod Howe, executive director for the History Center, explains that this perspective is part of why the Center chooses to be a Living Wage Employer. “As an organization that collects history, including folks who have any number of occupations over time, we are cognizant of not wanting to be recorded in our own collections as not paying our employees a livable wage that helps them live today and plan for their future.” While the History Center has paid a living wage for some time, they knew it was important formally to become a part of the Living Wage Employer program, too. “The board felt it was very important to know that we value employees. We may not be able to offer all the benefits that we want, but a full Living Wage is at least what our staff is worth.”

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