Advocacy Center Staff in Ithaca Unionize

It’s official. Management of the Advocacy Center in Ithaca has agreed to recognize its new staff union. These workers will now be affiliated with the Elmira-based Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 1111.

The unionization process began just five months ago when a representative from the staff, seeking information on the unionization process, approached the Tompkins County Workers’ Center through its Workers Rights Hotline. A follow-up meeting brought a larger group to TCWC, and they resolved to contact CWA for assistance. This led to more intra-staff discussions and meetings and finally the drawing up of a mission statement and request for union recognition which they presented to management. No official government-supervised vote was required as the Advocacy Center board voluntarily agreed to recognize the union.

“I am so proud to stand in solidarity with my colleagues at the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County as we establish our union with CWA,” said one of the Union members. “Advocacy Center staff passionately perform difficult jobs that are so crucial to supporting our community. By ensuring staff working conditions are the best they can be, we can sustainably continue offering excellent services. I’m looking forward to shaping Advocacy Center policies that create a supportive and trauma informed work environment at every level of the agency.” [Advocacy Center workers are not identified publicly.]

This is the third new private sector union established in Ithaca within the last year. “This is one of the things we do,” said Pete Meyers, TCWC Coordinator. “We provide information, support and advocacy for workers who have work-related grievances, and seek to empower them through self-organization and union representation whenever possible.” Previous unions established in Ithaca in the last year with TCWC’s help include Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services, also represented by CWA Local 1111, and Bangs Ambulance Services, represented by CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association).

“We are pleased to grow the ranks of organized labor,” Theresa Shaffer, Lead Organizer for CWA, said. “More and more workers are turning to unions and supporting unions as key institutions to ensure a decent standard of living and working conditions.” CWA represents 500 telecom, public sector, healthcare and non-profit workers in the Southern Tier. Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services staff, also part of CWA, recently signed their first union contract.

TCWC’s Worker Rights Hotline can be reached by calling 607-269-0409 or via its website. Theresa Shaffer, CWA Lead Organizer for the region, can be reached at 716-310-9352. The Advocacy Center Hotline can be reached 607-277-5000. It provides support, advocacy and education for survivors, friends, and families of domestic violence, and sexual assault in Tompkins County.