Advocacy Center Union Mission Statement

Dear Advocacy Center Board of Directors,
We the workers of the Advocacy Center would like to announce that we are respectfully requesting voluntary recognition of our unionization efforts with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). See our mission statement is attached.
ACU Collective

We, the Staff of the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, have come together to advocate for a dignified, respectful, and trauma-informed workplace in order to better serve our community.

We are committed to the mission of the Advocacy Center “to increase the safety and reduce the trauma for those who have been impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, rape and child sexual abuse.” We seek a workplace centered on transparency and empathy where staff understand what is happening at an agency level and have a say in shaping policy.

We plan to be represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in order to improve working conditions and to continue offering excellent services to the public.

Unionization will give staff a voice, ensuring that staff’s needs are met and can

effectively advocate to improve the services we offer the community. We recognize that best practices to achieve high-quality services are rooted in the well-being of the staff and the well-being of the agency as a whole.

With respect to agency policies, practices, and compensation: We seek an agency…

  • That is transparent about revenue, budgets, policies, grievance processes, board membership, meetings, meeting minutes, hiring and firing practices, clear guidelines around advancement within the agency, and that seeks first to hire from within and involves staff in the hiring process.
  • That encourages and welcomes the input of advocates and educators to shape policy, shape training, and to identify and adapt to emerging trends in client and community needs.
  • That prioritizes retention rather than growth.
  • That provides pay and benefits commensurate with similar agencies in areas with similar costs of living, eliminates wage compression and inequity, has full transparency around all agency wages, and has structured pay increases based on cost of living and time at the agency.
  • With adequate staffing of advocates, educators, and administrative positions ensuring that staff can sustainably respond to their responsibilities and take time off.
  • With equitable hybrid work from home options without compulsory disclosure of private medical information or otherwise.
  • That prioritizes clearly defined job descriptions and provides clear communication and compensation for responsibilities taken on by staff outside of their job description.
  • That provides standardized training for every position and supports ongoing professional development for all staff.
  • That values and encourages the relationships of new staff with their experienced peers.
  • With clear understanding of primary and secondary responsibilities of staff so they can manage work and caseloads, particularly in times of low staffing or high crisis. Secondary responsibilities should not take priority over primary responsibilities. We ask that supervisors manage, maintain, and delegate the workload and responsibilities of staff.
  • That understands the risks of vicarious traumatization inherent in this field and that continuously seeks to mitigate these risks with industry best practices and standards.
  • That provides trauma-informed supervision which requires further education of supervisors on topis including mitigating and processing secondary trauma and creating supportive workplace that respects the unique challenge of advocates work
  • Where supervisors ensure that staff can take uninterrupted breaks and meals.

With respect to commitments to DEi, intersectional feminism, and transformative justice: We seek an agency…

  • That looks to hire staff that intentionally reflects the community we serve, and prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the agency and board.
  • That respects emotional labor and empathy as highly skilled capacities worthy of respect and acknowledges the complex and diverse backgrounds of staff.
  • With a work environment free of microaggressions towards staff and clients. We wish to create clear pathways of accountability and structured continuing communication for if and when these occur as well as education around marginalized identities.
  • That supports caregivers in both traditional and non-traditional roles, including flexible leave time, flexible schedules, and other accommodations without pressure from the agency.
  • That intentionally fosters relationships with other community groups and systems outside of criminal and other punitive systems that can harm our clients, and willingly fights for survivors, not just for our relationships with systems.
  • That fosters joy, support, and care within the agency through healthy and clear communication and accountability with supervisors, seeks a feminist deconstruction of hierarchies. and meaningfully celebrates staff successes and resilience.

We respectfully request voluntary recognition from the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County to join Communications Workers of America (CWA).