By the end of this week, the three-year contract for the union bargaining group at Tompkins Community Action (TCA) will run out, and members of the union say that TCA management hasn’t sat down to figure out a new one.
On Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 members of the union took to more direct action by holding an awareness-raising event not far from the TCA headquarters on Spencer Road. Along Route 13 members of the union and supporters held signs calling on management to sit down with them. A giant inflatable rat made it all hard to miss.
Ruth Williams is a member of the Local #11 at TCA and has been since the union was formed.
“Management at Tompkins Community Action have decided that they aren’t going to bargain in good faith, and the good faith is ‘Let’s get this done before May 31’,” Williams said. “In fairness, they have offered dates after the date of expiration. But it’s super important to get that in before May 31 so our contract will be seamless.”
Williams has worked on and off with TCA since 1987 in several capacities, largely in the areas of food and nutrition for the kids that TCA serves in its Headstart programs. She was at the organization when the union was created with about 70 employees. Now it’s down to around 40. The Local #11 covers the housing assistance employees, maintenance staff, cooks, and teacher assistants.
Williams doesn’t really know what will happen if the union doesn’t negotiate a new contract with management before May 31.
“My concern is that if the contract expires, I’m not sure if they’re protected or not,” she said of the members of the Local #11.
She doesn’t believe that Lee Dillon, Executive Director for TCA, and the management team are very union friendly, or in any kind of hurry to start negotiations.
“I can’t speak for management why they don’t want his to happen,” Williams said. “All I can tell you is that it’s not been a very gracious relationship.”
Williams said that the union started requesting dates for negotiation back in April. Dates were set but were then postponed, and a follow-up date before May 31 had not been set. Currently, Williams said, the agency is looking for a new CFO and going through some transition.
“We are in the process of setting up dates with the union to discuss negotiations of a successor agreement,” Dillon said in a statement to Tompkins Weekly. “We experienced a slight delay due to the resignation of our CFO who had previously taken the lead in our union negotiations. We are hopeful to have a new CFO by early June and are proposing dates to the union to start the negotiations process then.”
Dillon could not offer more information beyond the statement for this story at this time.
Cost of living allowances is one of the things Williams would like to talk about in negotiations. She’s worked long enough in the service provider industry that she understands the difficulties of funding and funding streams.
“We’re not going to demand money they don’t have,” she said.
The union has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against TCA because negotiations have not begun.
Why bother? TCA doesn't care about it's employees; only what it can get from them. The management has fostered an environment of blaming someone down the chain when things don't go as planned. Instead of trying to understand what happened their solution is to fire\ layoff\ reassign someone. No recognition of the value of employees' experience in their specific position… and full expectation there will be NO loss off productivity during a transition! TCA has always portrayed the Union negatively to employees as something that gets between management & employees and limits what the Agency can do for it's employees. They will probably do everything they can to get out of the Union if ever possible.
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