NOTE: To download a PDF version of this report, please click here.
Tompkins County Workers’ Center
Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC) is a long-time grantee of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), having received $225,000 in Catholic funds since 2007. While it hasn’t received a national CCHD grant since 2012, its most recent grant, found on the CCHD’s 2020-2021 grants list, shows that it received $50,000 for that year.
We published a report on TCWC in November of last year, showing a multitude of serious problems (and CCHD grantee violations) with the organization. In that report, we proved that:
- TCWC is a coalition partner with Campaign for New York Health, which actively promotes and supports access to abortion.
- TCWC directly endorsed Planned Parenthood, certifying it as a “living wage employer,” in Sept. 2016.
- TCWC actively promoted socialism on social media.
- TCWC is an affiliate member of Jobs with Justice, which actively promotes abortion and sodomy.
The CCHD has an FAQ page addressing what CCHD will and will not fund, stating unequivocally that CCHD will not fund organizations that are members of coalitions that act in direct contravention with Catholic moral and social teaching. It says:
Given this statement alone, and TCWC’s affiliation with Jobs with Justice (which is radically pro-abortion, pro-LGBT, and Marxist), TCWC should be disqualified from funding. Adding to that TCWC’s direct support for Planned Parenthood and its participation in the abortion-advocating “Campaign for NY Health,” there is no excuse possible for the CCHD to provide any funding to TCWC, no matter how you look at it. (Again, see our report here for that information.)
But what we’re going to focus on here is the fact that TCWC is a Marxist organization, founded by a socialist, that is itself promoting socialism. We’ll also show further connections between TCWC and Planned Parenthood, TCWC’s direct promotion of socialism, and TCWC’s LGBT advocacy, As a reminder, socialism is completely condemned by the Catholic Church and is absolutely incompatible with Catholic social teaching.
But before we get into the leadership and organizational support for socialism and homosexuality, we made a very interesting discovery regarding TCWC. As it happens, the diocesan contact for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development for the Diocese of Rochester is Laurie Konwinski. On the USCCB’s page listing all the diocesan contacts for the CCHD, Konwinski is identified as the CCHD contact for the Diocese of Rochester, which means that the very first step of grant application comes to Konwinski. She’s the one who approves the initial grant, and it would be she who personally “investigates” any claims of impropriety on the part of any grantee in her area, which includes TCWC. And her history with TCWC goes back to at least 2010.
As noted above, the CCHD has provided numerous grants to TCWC between the years 2007-2012, and despite previous reports produced by the Reform CCHD Now coalition, even bringing the information on TCWC directly to CCHD leadership, the CCHD has never issued any formal statement regarding TCWC. It seemed strange that the CCHD should provide a new grant to TCWC after such a long break, but after discovering that the CCHD’s director for the area had an intimate relationship with TCWC, and actually participated in TCWC’s socialist activities, it suddenly all made sense.
On September 5, 2020, TCWC collaborated with DSA to produce a Labor Day Broadcast, rather than their usual annual picnic, which they were forced to cancel due to COVID. According to TCWC’s article on the event:
“This year’s event was a joint project pulled off by the combined efforts of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center and the Ithaca Chapter of DSA (Democratic Socialists of America). In particular, David Foote, DSA activist as well as TCWC Member, played a yeoman’s role without which this broadcast would not have been possible.”
Of particular note here is the fact that the same person who would approve the grant CCHD to TCWC is a participant in this joint TCWC-DSA event. Laurie Konwinski is identified as the Deputy Director for Catholic Charities of Tompkins & Tioga Counties and as a speaker in the online broadcast from the 4:28:40 mark to the 4:55:10 mark. The link to the video is here. And here, you can see her identified in the speaker’s lineup. Given that the person interviewing her is a representative of the DSA and even had a DSA flag and posters in the background behind him, there is simply no way Konwinski was unaware of the socialist nature of the event.
And as we indicated earlier, Konwinski was actively involved with TCWC as far back as 2010. This TCWC newsletter from the winter of 2010 shows that Konwinski was acting in collaboration with TCWC, and formally through her Catholic Charities office, on a “religious taskforce.”
In the winter of 2013, TCWC recognized and thanked Konwinski for her role in the “first-ever TCWC Annual Giving Campaign,” meaning that she helped facilitated funds to TCWC during TCWC’s hiatus from CCHD funds.
In the summer of 2014, Konwinski wrote an article for the TCWC newsletter titled, “Another Step Toward a Living Wage for All.“
Given the fact that Laurie Konwinski is the CCHD contact for the Diocese of Rochester, that she participated in a TCWC-DSA event, and that she has a long history of collaborating with TCWC, it is clear that she has a conflict of interest. How can she objectively vet and “investigate” an organization with whom she has a close working relationship? And given her participation in an event sponsored by the DSA, she clearly takes no issue with socialism or its agents.
Pete Meyers, Socialist Founder of TCWC
This is Pete Meyers’ facebook page, wherein he describes himself as the TCWC “River Boat Captain.” His bio on the TCWC website says that Meyers “got a job at Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga Counties as a Mentor in a Welfare-to-Work program” in the year 2000. It also says that he is one of the “founders” of TCWC, which was created in 2011. Among the list of things Meyers “likes” on facebook are pro-LGBT, pro-same-sex “marriage,” and outright Marxist entities.
But Meyers doesn’t just “like” this stuff on facebook, he actively endorses and supports it. For instance, on June 26, 2015, Meyers openly celebrated the SCOTUS ruling in favor of same-sex “marriage.”
On June 15, 2020, Meyers celebrated the SCOTUS ruling in favor of the destruction of conscience protections for employers.
On October 23, 2019, Meyers admitted that he has “been a part” of the Democratic Socialists of America.On September 4, 2017, Meyers served as the Master of Ceremonies for the Ithaca Democratic Socialists of Americas’ presentation of the “Mother Jones Awards.” Mary G. Harris Jones (Mother Jones) was a socialist activist from the early 20th century. Also participating was Rob Brown, identified as TCWC’s Office Manager, while the Ithaca DSA blog post was entered by long-time TCWC member leader, Theresa Alt.
On May 4, 2020, Meyers shouted “Go Ithaca DSA” while the DSA helped conduct fundraising efforts on behalf of TCWC.
On August 7, 2015, Meyers posted a video that argues that America is already a Socialist country.
On March 28 of last year, Meyers promoted an event hosted by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (Rosa Luxemburg was “revolutionary socialist” and devotee of Karl Marx), and the Democratic-Socialists of America.
On June 12, 2019, Meyers admired Bernie Sanders description of Democratic Socialism.
On April 20, 2019, Meyers posted an article, encouraging people to get to know about Marxist Eugene Debs.
On April 17, 2016, Meyers posted an article promoting socialism.
On October 3, 2014, Meyers again promoted the Marxist Eugene Debs.
Some additional background on Meyers shows that his affiliation with socialists goes back quite a way, and by extension, the same is true for TCWC.
In October of 2007, Meyers (while representing TCWC) appeared twice on the Democratic Socialists of America’s tv program called, “Ithaca DSA Presents.”
He appeared twice more in April of 2009.
In May of 2010, TCWC advertised a video on its own website, which was produced by the Democratic Socialists of America. The video (no longer available) opened with the first verse of The Internationale, the anthem of international communism.
In this TCWC-organized on the Employee Free Choice Act, Pete Meyers, as head of TCWC, introduced speaker Marty Luster, of the Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America.
TCWC Promoting and Collaborating with DSA
The information on Pete Meyers is important to establish the fact that the leadership of an organization determines the direction and philosophy of the organization. What follows are proofs of TCWC’s direct promotion of socialism and collaboration with socialists, as an organization.
On July 24, 2018, TCWC hosted socialist political candidates running for governor and state comptroller in New York in the Green Party. Among the discussion topics was “Eco-Socialism,” while the gubernatorial candidate:
“Howie Hawkins, a long-time member of the Socialist Party, will describe how socialism seeks to restructure how the economy operates rather than merely providing some relief to the various economic and social problems created by capitalism.”
In March of 2012, TCWC hosted an event in their headquarters sponsored by the DSA.
In November of 2012, TCWC co-sponsored an event with the DSA.
In October of 2018, TCWC posted on its own website how it co-sponsored another event with DSA to discuss a book about “What happened in Vermont when the anti-Communist fear known as the “Red Scare” swept the country.”
TCWC did a write-up on this event on facebook, lauding members of the Communist Party as “courageous” and celebrating the resurgence of socialist ideologies.
On August 7, 2019, TCWC announced that it will be co-sponsoring its 36th annual Labor Day picnic with the DSA.
On May 1 of 2020, TCWC promoted a DSA event on facebook.
On April 9, 2019, TCWC promoted several events organized by the DSA.
TCWC and Planned Parenthood
As indicated in our previous report on TCWC, in 2016, TCWC certified Planned Parenthood as a “Living Wage Employer.” In the announcement TCWC wrote up on the certification, it called the nation’s largest big box abortion chain an “important community institution” that “has a history of providing accessible quality health care, honest education, and fearless advocacy.”
That same year, the Ithaca Journal reported that TCWC hosted Planned Parenthood at the annual Labor Day Picnic, where it was allowed a table to promote its organization and its “services.”
A year earlier, TCWC promoted a pro-Planned Parenthood rally.
TCWC is Pro-LGBT
In addition to being heavily involved with socialists and socialist activities, and the promotion of Planned Parenthood, TCWC is actively pro-LGBT. For instance, in April of 2017, TCWC published an article wherein it explained how TCWC had assisted an Ithaca City police officer, Sarah Crews, file a lawsuit against the police department for LGBT discrimination.
On October of 2014, TCWC promoted an LGBT movie titled “Pride,” calling it “an absolutely fantastic movie.”
The trailer for “Pride” shows it to be a morally depraved pro-homosexual propaganda film. However, the intersectionality of socialist activism and LGBT-activism appears to be the central theme of the movie. The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) describes it this way:
“UK gay and lesbian activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.”
TCWC and Pass NY Health
In our previous report, we showed that TCWC is a member of a pro-abortion coalition called the Campaign for New York Health (CNYH). TCWC confirmed its membership in this coalition on September 26, 2018 and November 20, 2018 on its own social media feed.
The Campaign for New York Health Coalition has, as part of its organizational purposes, the promotion of abortion funding in New York. This can be seen readily from CNYH’s own website and social media posts.
This September 29, 2021 event alert on CNYH’s website promotes an outreach with Syracuse Women’s march and Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York “to send a message that abortion is essential health care.” Here is a screenshot taken from CNYH’s website:
This May 16, 2019 Facebook post from CNYH states they are “doubling down” on support for “legislation that protects access to abortion.”
This Oct 2, 2021 Twitter post from CNYH states that “abortion is healthcare”:
TCWC and Jobs with Justice
TCWC is is a network affiliate of the Jobs with Justice (JWJ) coalition.
This is from JWJ’s website:
TCWC’s website also confirms this affiliation:
According to Jobs with Justice’s tax form 990, JwJ collects membership dues, which strongly suggests that TCWC is financially supporting JwJ.
On June 24 of 2022, the day the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision overturning Roe v. Wade, JwJ issued a public statement as an organization, slamming the decision as “reprehensible.”
In August of 2020, JwJ’s executive director, Erica Smiley issued a statement on the JwJ website regarding Joe Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris as his running mate, demanding that “the campaign must fight for access to reproductive health care, including abortion.”
Also in 2020, JWJ announced that it was joining a massive abortion effort called All Above All. In an article for Women’s Media Center, JWJ executive director Erica Smiley was interviewed. She stated in this article, “Demanding abortion coverage and overturning Hyde is step one for us,” Smiley says, also noting that abortion coverage advances racial justice too. “That’s essential for women of color to actually be supported and get the resources they need to thrive.”
The article goes on to state, “Jobs with Justice’s key demands of the Biden administration and Congress, as both try to move forward on a relief package, include lifting the Hyde Amendment, a policy that restricts Medicaid coverage of abortion care.”
All* Above All’s website confirms that JWJ is a coalition member:JWJ’s recent social media is rabidly pro-abortion. Take, for instance, this January 22, 2021 JWJ Facebook post calling for “fighting for Abortion Justice for all of us.”
Also, this May 10, 2021 Facebook post from JWJ calls for the end of Hyde restrictions on federal abortion funding:
This example from JWJ’s Facebook feed on September 1, 2021 decries the Texas abortion restrictions and states that “reproductive justice IS economic justice.”
Given the long association between Tompkins County Workers’ Center and the Democratic Socialists of America, TCWC’s own promotions of socialism, TCWC’s founder and leader’s promotion of socialism and affiliation with socialists, TCWC’s direct promotion of Planned Parenthood, TCWC’s participation in an openly pro-abortion campaign, and TCWC’s membership (likely dues-paying) in the Marxist, pro-abortion Jobs with Justice, the organization fails CCHD grant guidelines on nearly every moral front. And yet, TCWC received a grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development for $50,000 for FY 2020-2021.
Normally, it would be difficult to understand how such an organization could possibly have passed through the CCHD’s self-proclaimed “rigorous vetting process.” However, the discovery that the Rochester Diocese’s own CCHD director, Laurie Konwinski, has been intimately involved with TCWC for over a decade, and that Konwinski herself participated in an event that TCWC co-sponsored with the Democratic Socialists of America, the explanation appears to be clear: the Rochester CCHD representative takes no issue with any of the information we provided in this report because she is aligned with it.