from 3 p.m. Wednesday, February 23rd:
The Tompkins County Workers’ Center has just been informed that Suicide Prevention & Crisis Services of Tompkins County has notified the workers and their union, Communication Workers of America Local 1111, that it has agreed to voluntarily recognize the Crisis Counselors unionization.
This is great news for the organization and the workers, and an indication that the community campaign and petition that TCWC initiated this morning had a positive impact. There will be no need for a contested union vote and we expect that negotiations between the parties to develop a contract will commence shortly.
from 5 a.m. Wednesday, February 23rd:
Please support the wonderful staff of Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service of Tompkins County as they seek a voice at work through union representation.
The staff have been seeking for months to work with management to resolve their serious grievances, to no avail. Crisis counselors have felt unsupported as call numbers have increased (over 30% in 2021) and their own stress levels have risen. They have felt unheard and excluded from input into decision-making. And they have felt disrespected by management’s response to their entreaties.
Here is what the workers themselves say:
“We the Crisis Counselors of Suicide and Prevention Services (SPCS) have come together to advocate for a dignified, respectful and trauma-informed workplace for all of us who make it possible for the Crisisline to serve our community. We are committed to the mission of SPCS to ‘promote constructive responses to crisis and trauma, and to prevent violence to self and others through direct support and community education.’ … We seek a workplace centered on transparency and empathy where counselors understand what is happening at an agency level and have a say in shaping policy.” Mission Statement of the Crisis Counselors at Suicide Prevention
With management unresponsive to their concerns and needs, the staff will be voting for union representation through CWA Local 1111 in March. The election will be supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.
One anonymous counselor shared, “We are concerned that the community could lose SPCS. Services like outreach and education are no longer offered and we are now solely a crisisline. Short staffing has put a heavy burden on us and contributes to a culture of burnout. Over the past 2 years, crucial staff have been pushed out by an unqualified and autocratic management with little experience in this field, destabilizing the agency at a time when calls have soared due to the pandemic.”
“I have been inspired as I have listened to and talked with these dedicated crisis counselors,” said Pete Meyers, Coordinator of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC). “So far they have been denied a voice at work but that will change with unionization. I hope and expect that SPCS management will respect worker rights going forward, especially the right to a fair election process.”