A banner for the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

ITHACA, N.Y.—Workers at the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County (ACTC), which primarily provides help and resources for survivors of domestic violence, announced a successful unionization Friday afternoon, additionally announcing that the non-profit’s management has agreed to voluntarily recognize the union.

The staff at the advocacy center will now be affiliated with Communication Workers of America’s (CWA) local 1111 chapter. According to an announcement from the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC), the recognition is the end of a five-month process initiated by a staff member who contacted the workers’ center for a consultation about unionizing.

There was no official vote because of the voluntary recognition.

“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 ACTC worker (Advocacy Center workers are typically not identified for safety reasons due to their line of work). “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.”

The unionization announcement comes just weeks after ACTC announced the departure of its longtime executive director, Heather Campbell, who had led the agency since 2013.

“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,” reads the staff’s mission statement under their nascent union.

That mission statement includes goals for revenue transparency, retention over growth, competitive pay, hybrid work options, clearer work responsibilities, commitments to diversity, valuing emotional labor and more flexible leave policies.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.org.