Tompkins Community Action (TCA) Refuses to Negotiate with Unionized Workers

(Ithaca) More than seven years ago, workers from Tompkins Community Action (TCA) approached the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC) through the Workers’ Rights Hotline with serious concerns about how their agency operated and how workers were treated. The workers quickly decided to organize a union and received support from TCWC. The workforce overwhelmingly voted to form a union with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) in early 2013. Now, management at TCA is aggressively stalling against the bargaining unit in negotiations for their third contract as the 5/31/19 expiration of their second contract nears. It is unacceptable to TCWC that TCA is so unwilling to engage their workforce in good faith.

On May 23rd and 24th, the workers and other community members will display their discontent with management at TCA. Management at TCA is refusing to sit with Local #11 to negotiate a new contract. The current three-year contract will expire on May 31st 2019. The Union has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for their refusal to bargain in good faith with Local #11 members and their representatives. [Sign a petition here to indicate that you believe that IUPAT Local 11 members deserve the respect of management at TCA to sit and discuss the upcoming contract!]

  • Who: Local #11 and Community Members
  • When: Thursday, May 23rd and Friday, May 24th between 2:30pm and 6:30pm. Come for as long as you are able! (Sign up on Facebook here)
  • Where: Buttermilk Falls Plaza, 401 Elmira Rd., Ithaca NY
  • Why: An informational demonstration showing discontent for TCA Management’s refusal to negotiate a new contract with Local #11.

Says Ruth Williams, IUPAT Local #11 President and TCA worker: “It’s disappointing that our requests for dates to renegotiate our new contract have been ignored by the management of TCA so far. We remain determined to work toward mutual respect during collective bargaining and to get to the crucial epicenter of how we can best serve the bargaining unit members. Divisive anti-union propaganda hurts everyone. Even non-members.”

Says Carol Hammel, IUPAT Local #11 Vice-President and TCA worker: “I am proud to be a part of the Head Start teaching team which was designed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. The union is a supporter of our cause in protecting our rights, making sure we are treated fairly and are compensated for our heroic efforts in helping families and their children have a brighter future. Why management at TCA refuses to negotiate a contract that offers to protect it’s employees, is beyond me. I hope the community will step up and support us in the effort to get management to negotiate a new contract which stands to support the people who play such a vital role in the community.”

Pete Meyers, Coordinator of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC) says this: “While the employees of TCA work hard and selflessly to deliver critically important services to marginalized members of our community, they’re targets of marginalization and cynical manipulation at work. TCWC is devoted to the dignity of human services workers, from Living Wages to good working conditions that affirm their expertise in delivering quality programs and their right to organize. TCA should treat its union workers as the full partners that they are.”

Tompkins Community Action is a CAA (Community Action Agency) founded by the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act to fight the War on Poverty. By all rights these agencies, which there are well over 1,000 in the US, are crucial to help our most vulnerable individuals, families, and children. Programs such as Head Start, Housing Choice Voucher Programs, Energy Services and the recent addition of Amici House addressing the needs of at risk homeless women and their children. The mission is incredibly important and altruistic. The hard working members of Local #11 play a vital role in these important community programs. Why does management at Tompkins Community Action refuse to meet and discuss the new contract?