Tompkins County Workers' Center

Workers' advocacy, support and empowerment | Labor rights in Tompkins County, New York State |

The Ithacan | Workers debate over NY state’s minimum wage for tipped employees →
— 1 week ago
Facing pay of $5/hour, Ithaca’s ‘tipped workers’ ask for higher base wage →

Kudos to the Ithaca Voice for covering this ever-important issue!!!

— 1 week ago
STOP Precarious Work →

I just supported STOP Precarious Work on @ThunderclapIt // @IndustriALL_GU

— 2 weeks ago with 1 note
Making it Work as an Adjunct in a College Town →
— 1 month ago
Bruce Popper: Poverty Is Not an Accident

Remarks of Bruce Popper at Rochester, NY Labor Day Press Conference

Popper is First Vice-president, Rochester and Vicinity Labor Council, AFL-CIO

“Poverty is not an accident.  Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the action of human beings.”

So said Nelson Mandela.

We stand here today, ready to celebrate the Labor Day weekend, to honor workers, and to recognize the movement that brought a measure of prosperity and a middle class to America.

We stand here today, within the City of Rochester, New York, a city with the 3rd worst poverty rate in America.  As President Mandela said, ‘This poverty is not an accident.’

This poverty is not from a lack of jobs.  It is not for lack of education or a failed school system.  It is not due to some ‘cultural attribute.’  For most poor people work every day.  They work several jobs just to make ends meet.  They juggle family responsibilities with the many hours of toil needed to survive.  They hold low wage jobs.  

The reason for the poverty is a lack of good paying jobs.

The workers have fought back to change their condition.  Literally thousands of low wage workers, over the past decade, have tried to organize and form unions in Monroe County, only to have their aspirations crushed.  A handful of highly paid law firms and consultants, doing the bidding of local employers, have professionally and surgically destroyed the hopes and dreams of these workers.

Whether at the Arc of Monroe, the major health systems, or call centers and retail outlets, this struggle against poverty has gone completely unrecognized by the media and community leaders.

‘Poverty is not an accident.’

We in the union movement need to accept our share of the blame for the failure of these rebellions against poverty.  As our members’ standard of living and very jobs have come under increasing attack, we have retreated to defense.  We have failed to adequately reach out to unorganized workers, community allies, and people of good conscience to build a broader movement for social and economic justice.

We continue to work in a bargaining unit paradigm born in 1935 by pitting small groups of workers against big corporations, and telling them that they can win.  That strategy may have worked a generation or two ago.  It no longer fits our time.

There is a growing awareness of this fact in the labor movement.  There is a growing awareness of the need for a new strategy if we are not all to sink into poverty.

Across the country, a movement called the “Fight for Fifteen” has arisen.  It is the organizing by fast food and other low wage workers around the demand for a living wage of no less than $15. per hour.

The “Fight for Fifteen” campaign has now come to Rochester.  It is being led by Metro-Justice and it is endorsed by the Rochester Labor Council.  It seeks to unite large numbers of workers, not small groups.  It is a strategy whose time has come.

The members of my unions, 1199 and SEIU, have embraced this demand as the theme in their upcoming contract negotiations with the University of Rochester.  No worker fully qualified for a job should be employed in our region’s largest and wealthiest employer and make less than $15. per hour.

We in 1199 SEIU, SEIU 200United, the Rochester Labor Council, and Metro-Justice ask you to join us in supporting the workers’ “Fight for Fifteen” in Rochester.

We know that poverty is not an accident.  

We intend to remove it by our actions.

— 1 month ago
Jeff Furman On: How to avoid another Wall Street tsunami →
— 2 months ago
A university president gave up $90,000 to give his minimum wage workers a raise →

This is so so important; and part of what it’ll take for people to be treated right in the workplace, wage-wise. Please do spread the news! An absolute class structure takes place in so many of our organizations; it’s shameful!

— 2 months ago with 1 note
Small farms, big problems: Labor crisis goes ignored in idyllic setting | Al Jazeera America →

Especial focus on Upstate New York farms. Good job Workers’ Center of CNY and the Workers Justice Center of NY!

— 2 months ago
Tompkins Workers’ Center Certifies Five New Employers as Living Wage →

• Town of Danby, 1830 Danby Road, Ithaca
• Quintile Biosciences, 19 Brown Road, Ithaca
• Miller Mayer Law Office, 202 E. State Street, Ithaca
• Ithaca Oral Surgery and Implant Care, 1301 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca
• Avalon Homes, 950 Danby Road, Ithaca

— 3 months ago