New Union at Ithaca Health Alliance Formed, Contract Signed

(ITHACA) Administrative staff at the Ithaca Health Alliance (IHA) has formed a union, and the union and IHA have successfully completed negotiations of their first collective bargaining agreement. Both the employer and the union signed the new agreement several weeks ago.

Rob Brown, Administrative Coordinator at IHA, said, “we are all unified in our desire to make the Ithaca Health Alliance as effective as possible.” Brown, the first employee hired by IHA, has been with the agency for ten years.

Executive Director Abbe Lyons observes “every day, the Ithaca Health Alliance employees bring tremendous creativity, dedication to health care as a human right, and striving for excellence to the important work of the Health Alliance.” Kelly White, IHA Board President, adds “one of the pillars of the Ithaca Health Alliance is the empowerment of individuals, whether they be the patients we serve, members of the general public who benefit from our educational and other outreach efforts, or members of our staff. The board greatly values our staff and voluntarily recognized the Union in a unanimous vote on December 3, 2014. We are pleased to have a signed contract and look forward to continuing to work together to further the mission of the Ithaca Health Alliance.”

When the staff decided to form a union, they received support from the Tompkins County Worker’s Center (TCWC) and from Workers United Rochester Regional Joint Board, which is affiliated with SEIU. Pete Meyers of the TCWC commented that, “too often in Tompkins County we practice progressive values towards everything except labor/management relations. I want to congratulate the IHA workers’ union and the IHA Board for working together to craft this agreement.”

The union joined with the Tompkins County Worker’s Center in a unique partnership to conduct a joint union/community campaign. “This is consistent with the union’s belief in community ownership of unions, and I believe that the national labor movement could benefit from similar partnerships,” Meyers said.

According to Gary Bonadonna, Jr., Assistant Manager of Workers United Rochester Regional Joint Board, “The workers at IHA put so much work into forming their union and negotiating a contract. I am very happy for them and honored they chose to work with our union. We also look forward to working with other Ithaca workers to help them make improvements at their workplace and achieve a voice on the job.”

About the involved organizations
Since 1997, the Ithaca Health Alliance has been facilitating health care for all with a focus on the needs of the uninsured and under-insured. The Alliance’s three programs — Ithaca Free Clinic, Ithaca Health Fund, and Community Health Education, are based on the principle that health care is a human right.

The Ithaca Health Alliance Workers’ Union was recognized in December 2014, and believes in and will fight for a just world, dignity in the workplace, and a world where all people are respected and everyone’s health is provided for regardless of race, gender, sexuality, class and ability.

Founded in 2003, the mission of the Tompkins County Worker’s Center is to stand up with all people treated unfairly at work. They will support, advocate for, and seek to empower each other to create a more just community and world.

For over 100 years the Rochester Regional Joint Board (RRJB) has been making a difference in the lives of workers and their communities. RRJB is an umbrella labor union/organization, affiliates with other unions such as Worker’s United and SEIU. They represent workers from virtually every cultural, ethnic, racial and religious background — workers who came to the area from more than 50 countries. Locally, nationally and internationally, RRJB and Workers United are vocal advocates for the working person.