$25,000 Awardee – Advocacy
The Advocacy award recognizes Ithaca, NY-based Alternatives Federal Credit Union for its policy and advocacy leadership on Living Wages. Alternatives’ leadership and advocacy on the Living Wage began at the local level and has grown into a national movement. In 1994, the credit union undertook a study of what it costs to live in Tompkins County, NY. Alternatives publicly announced the study, making the distinction between a living wage and the official minimum wage and their commitment to paying a living wage to all employees. Based on Alternatives’ study, Tompkins County and City of Ithaca governments voted that organizations receiving their funding must meet Living Wage guidelines. Private employers in and outside Ithaca have adopted a living wage, and people in other cities have used Alternatives’ study as a model for their own efforts to improve the lives of the working poor. In 2009, Alternatives conducted another Living Wage study which indicated that at least 2,500 workers, more than 5% of the County’s workforce, would see an increase in pay as a result of its work.