TOMPKINS COUNTY WORKERS CENTER INC

We all deserve a Living Wage and dignity at work.

Ithaca, NY   |  www.tcworkerscenter.org

Mission

THE MISSION OF THE TOMPKINS COUNTY WORKERS' CENTER IS TO STAND UP WITH ALL PEOPLE TREATED UNFAIRLY AT WORK. WE WILL SUPPORT, ADVOCATE FOR, AND SEEK TO EMPOWER EACH OTHER TO CREATE A MORE JUST COMMUNITY AND WORLD.

The Tompkins County Workers' Center primarily serves workers in Tompkins County, New York, and the surrounding Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions. The organization has some program impacts in other parts of New York and the United States including collaborations with other organizations and creation of models for community-based and grassroots labor oriented programs.

Ruling year info

2011

Coordinator

Pete Meyers

Main address

115 E Martin Luther King Jr St

Ithaca, NY 14850 USA

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EIN

45-3135903

NTEE code info

Labor Unions/Organizations (J40)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Working people spend much of their lives at work, but frequently people's experience in the workplace diminishes their fundamental human dignity through hostile work environments or by employers that violate workers' legal rights. Minimum wages have not kept pace with costs of living (especially in Tompkins County, NY, where the Living Wage needed to meet basic expenses without public assistance is presently $15.11/hr). The Tompkins County Workers' Center consequently works to provide Support, Advocacy, Empowerment, and Movement Building for the benefit of all working people and to create cultures of dignity and fair pay for all workers, and when necessary redress for violations of people's rights.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Workers' Rights Hotline

People who feel that they have received unfair or illegal treatment at work (including harassment, discrimination, wage theft, occupational safety violations, and many others) may contact the Workers' Rights Hotline. Few organizations anywhere offer such a service, and while most Hotline users are residents of Tompkins County and surrounding regions, the Hotline receives cases from around the U.S. Users typically receive education about labor regulations as they apply to their situation, advocacy and possible support interacting directly with employers, assistance filing regulatory complaints, and other forms of help including community direct action campaigns when indicated. Other Hotline users include persons who have been terminated and need help with unemployment filing or seek information on whether their termination was permissible; people seeking to organize in their workplace including labor union formation or affiliation; migrant and immigrant laborers' issues; employers seeking guidance on best practices and regulatory compliance; workers' compensation; and others. The Tompkins County Workers' Center works with each client's individual circumstances and desires, but operates the Hotline with a goal to empower Hotline users to be more effective and knowledgeable self-advocates and advocates for other workers in their own workplaces and the broader community. Specifically, TCWC staff and volunteers seek to operate Hotline services such that at least 50 percent of workers served annually will have an increased knowledge of workers' and economic human rights; 10 percent will gain this increased knowledge and be empowered to stand up for themselves and each other to create the change they desire in the workplace; and 1 percent will achieve these degrees of empowerment and engage to create larger social change as related to interests they define as positive to themselves.

Population(s) Served

The Tompkins County Workers' Center provides Occupational Safety and Health training for workers at diverse workplaces such as manufacturing facilities, offices, farms, and others, in addition to various other venues like English as a Second Language courses, unions, and interested organizations. These sessions include information about occupational safety requirements, laws, protections, options for workers, and overall societal context. They may also include practical occupational safety evaluations of the workplace with participants and their employers. The Workers' Center also provides advocacy services for people who face unsafe and unhealthy conditions at work. A specific sub-component of the program is migrant labor health and safety.

Safety and Health training or consultation provided by the Tompkins County Workers' Center seeks to develop a workforce in which all employees have the knowledge and critical evaluation skills necessary to identify hazards of all kinds and apply a hierarchy of controls to eliminate or mitigate these hazards. Trainers encourage workers to educate and work with co-workers in turn to develop concerted action strategies to ensure that employers implement hazard controls.

Population(s) Served

In 2006, the Tompkins County Workers' Center created the first Living Wage Employer Certification program in the United States. Through the program, TCWC recognizes and applauds employers in Tompkins County, New York, that voluntarily pay all employees at least a Living Wage, as determined by the biennial Alternatives Federal Credit Union Living Wage Study. The program also provides advocacy for living wage standards in the community in general, and education about costs of living. This program has been replicated by organizations around the U.S., and two of these (Interfaith Worker Justice in Chicago, IL, and Just Economics in Asheville, NC) worked with TCWC to create a guide on how to start such a program. The Tompkins County Workers' Center co-founded the national Living Wage Network with these and other organizations that certify Living Wage employers throughout the U.S.

Population(s) Served

Societal transformation such that all people are treated fairly at work and receive livable wages, even at a local level, cannot be achieved by any single organization or group of organizations. It requires an actively engaged community of people who stand together to create this change. The Tompkins County Workers' Center facilitates workers building connections with each other within their workplaces and in general to develop organizing skills. TCWC supports concerted actions by employees in any workplace through helping to identify actionable problems or opportunities for improvement, developing strategies for effective activities to achieve workers' desired change, and mobilizing community support for these workers when necessary. TCWC also works to connect working people throughout its communities, across difference, to support growth of a truly worker-led labor movement.

While the majority of TCWC's organizing work is with people who work in non-union workplaces, the Workers' Center also helps people mount campaigns to organize new unions at their workplaces, and collaborates with unions throughout its region on a wide range of issues.

The Tompkins County Workers' Center's Community Union Organizers are another component of its organizing presence. They are community members who get involved with the Workers' Center to work to create labor changes that they see as positive to themselves, in alignment with the Workers' Center mission, and are leaders and advocates for other workers. Their work varies based on personal interest and opportunity. CUOs are a self-directing collective within the Workers' Center who support each other in developing organizing skills and evaluating organizing solutions to real world workplace problems, and help define the Workers' Center's organizational priorities through their networking with workers throughout their communities.

Population(s) Served

Since its early origins as the Living Wage Coalition, the Tompkins County Workers' Center has worked to educate people about costs of living, the challenges of making ends meet on low wage work, and the economic benefits of compensating all members of the workforce fairly. As part of this work, the Tompkins County Workers' Center campaigns create a local minimum wage ordinance for Tompkins County, indexing the minimum wage to the living wage. This program has significant public education elements, highlighting the unusually high costs of living in Tompkins County (ranked 8th most expensive place to raise a family in the U.S. by the Economic Policy Institute; 2nd most expensive place to buy health insurance by a Time Magazine analysis; the most expensive place to rent housing in Upstate New York -- tied with Jefferson County -- by Housing & Urban Development fair market rate figures, with rentals accounting for 74 percent of occupied housing units, twice the national average; and so on). Through the campaign the Tompkins County Workers' Center also advocates along with other human service agencies such as those providing services for disabled persons, to establish more reasonable funding through Medicaid or other programs that can translate into better wages for woefully underpaid direct service professionals.

Population(s) Served

In collaboration with 24 different labor unions and related labor organizations (and growing) in New York's Tompkins and Cortland Counties, the Workers' Center coordinates a central networking and mutual aid group for organized labor. The T/C Labor Committee serves as a combined social, educational, strategic, and direct action body.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of overall donors

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Totals By Year

Number of list subscribers

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Number of first-time donors

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Average number of service recipients per month

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Totals By Year
Related Program

Workers' Rights Hotline

Number of organizations signing onto policy guidelines or proposals

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Living Wage Employer Certification

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The vision of the Tompkins County Workers' Center is that all people are respected in the workplace, have a Living Wage, the right to organize, quality health care, housing, childcare, transportation, and access to healthy food and water, as guaranteed by the Declaration of Universal Human Rights as ratified by the United Nations in 1948.

Our grassroots leadership is dedicated to getting rid of the root causes of poverty and injustice in the larger society and capitalist economy. We have raised standards, held institutions accountable, and built leadership as part of local, statewide and global networks to transform the economic system.

The leadership of the Workers' Center has active and equal participation from all the social groups in our county, including people of all class, racial and ethnic backgrounds, immigrant statuses, genders, sexual orientations, religions, ages, and abilities.

The Tompkins County Workers' Center's four pillars at the core of every program activity are:
1) Support -- Direct, acute, assistance for individuals, groups, and businesses for their immediate needs related to work and related civil rights.
2) Advocacy -- Working with (not just for) individuals, groups, businesses and regulatory agencies, the Workers' Center acts to address and resolve workers' rights problems, abuses, and policy issues.
3) Empowerment -- All Workers' Center program activities seek to engender people's individual agency and personal power at work and in their lives.
4) Movement Building -- The central tenet of the Workers' Center's work is to create coalitions of empowered and proactive workers, allied organizations, and public agencies.

The organization enacts these pillars through sustained, ongoing innovative program activities and a fierce commitment to remaining and growing as a grassroots community-accountable organization.

The Tompkins County Workers' Center has a small, but diverse staff of employees with complementary backgrounds in both organizational management and social justice organizing. The organization constantly recruits and cultivates participants in its work who join the organization as volunteers (from on-the ground workers and community union organizers to Leadership Team or committee members), who become members to support the organization's mission and be engaged participants in the movement. It also has deep connections to other community service and social justice organizations; local governments; state and federal government agencies (e.g. NYS Department of Labor, etc.); organized labor; and other allies whose areas of activity align with elements of the Workers' Center's work in behalf of working people.

Example accomplishments are:
1) Workers' Rights Hotline – The Hotline receives, on average, 45 contacts per month.
* The TCWC Workers' Rights Handbook compiles information established by myriad laws and regulations.
* The TCWC Restaurant Owners' Manual is a resource for food service workers and employers.
2) Occupational Safety and Health – The Workers' Center provides at least 200 trainings a year in diverse communities; participants rate the program highly.
3) Living Wage Employer Certification – Today, TCWC's program includes 117 employers with 3,057 employees.

The Workers' Center's movement-building agenda is a perpetual effort within the labor movement at large. Its campaign for a living wage minimum wage is a long-term effort, currently focused on working with a coalition of business, non-profit, and government representatives on studies of economic conditions.

Financials

TOMPKINS COUNTY WORKERS CENTER INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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TOMPKINS COUNTY WORKERS CENTER INC

Board of directors
as of 07/08/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Christopher Hanna

TC Workers' Center (Leadership Team Chair)

Term: 2017 - 2019


Board co-chair

Laura Moulton

TC Workers' Center (Leadership Team co-chair)

Term: 2017 - 2019

Ronneisha Butler

Ruth Williams

Jessica Brown

Yolanda Josephs

Christopher Hanna

Laura Moulton

Lee Adler

Aliqae Geraci

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes