On July 7th, the Living Wage Coalition Steering Committee decided to change our name from the Tompkins County Living Wage Coalition to the Tompkins County Workers’ Center to reflect more accurately our extensive work (our website is still in transition).
While we intend to stay every bit as focused on working for a Living Wage for all people in Tompkins County, we also began to realize that our mission is much broader than just Living Wage. Our mission has long been about organizing to insure that all workers (regardless of gender, race, national background, sexual orientation, disability or age) are treated fairly in their workplace; have the right to organize a union, if they so desire; have affordable access to comprehensive health insurance; and a right to affordable housing.
Some examples of the work we do include:
* Living Wage Education, Advocacy, and Community Campaigns, such as working to insure that School District Para’s and Service Employees are paid a Living Wage, in the public sector; big-box and hotel workers are paid a Living Wage in the private sector; working, successfully, to get the minimum wage increased at the statewide level; and our newest campaign is to certify employers as being Living Wage Employers (presently 21).
* Providing advocacy assistance to over 200 workers per year, through our Workers’ Rights Hotline, who feel they have been treated unfairly on the job or in other areas of life. There is no other source for this service in Tompkins County. Since inception three years ago, we have won over $50,000 back wages for dozens of workers;
* Immigrant Rights work outreaching directly to immigrants on workers’ issues and taking leadership in recent rally for Immigrant Rights on The Commons in May;
* Service Learning in Social Justice program providing internships to college and high school students, as well as classroom presentations;
* Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. Recognizing the critical importance of greater participation and leadership in our activities from those most affected by low wages and poverty, we are now establishing relationships with specific lower-income communities.
The Workers’ Center has 51 labor, religious, and community organizations supporting it. Key among this support is the Religious Task Force, which has been successfully organizing on the moral component of Living Wage, workers’ and immigrant issues.