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  Main >  Member Communications > PAnorama > January 2002

PAnorama: January 2002 (Special Spring Luncheon Edition)

From the President's Desk
by Ellis Gage Searles

Happy New Year!

Have you made any New Year's resolutions? Broken some already? Here's a fresh chance: my recommended PA resolutions for 2002. I hope you can find at least one to put on your list. Easy to keep, they are guaranteed to have a positive effect on the year ahead.


  • I will seek out a new member and extend a warm PA welcome.
  • I will join in a PA community outreach activity, wear my PA T-shirt, become visible as a PA member when I perform the community service that is already part of my life.
  • I will submit something to PAnorama: an announcement, a letter, an article, a column, or a photo.
  • I will express my support for our Negotiating Team--to the members themselves and to everyone else--whenever and wherever I can.
  • I will make a VOTE/COPE contribution of at least $26. to support the political action that takes place at the state and local level on our behalf.
  • I will become more politically active as a member of the PA. I'll write a letter, go to a meeting, send an e-mail, contact a legislator. And my message will be clear:

MVCC is vital to the economic rebirth of our region. Full funding for this valuable community resource has never been more important than it is now. Attracting and retaining the fine professionals who enable the College to fulfill its mission is key. Fair compensation is essential to that end and must be a top priority.

And for all of us, I suggest one last resolution, not just for 2002, but for every year:

  • I will not forget that I am the MVCC PA.

Annual Spring Luncheon Meeting Agenda

Friday, Jan. 18
11:30 to 1:30
@ The Commons (ACC)


  • Meet your NYSUT regional reps and our newest PA members
  • Vote on PA by-laws affecting when officers take office
  • Learn who is your Oneida County legislator
  • Help kick off this year's VOTE/COPE campaign
  • Join the PA team for America's Greatest Heart Run/Walk
  • Enjoy delicious victuals with your esteemed colleagues

PA propses constitutional by-laws revision
by Arthur Friedberg

Today, we will ask you to vote on the following proposed amendment to PA Constitution by-laws Article III Elections and Appointments, Section 3. The proposed change allows the Executive Board of the PA to assume office at the end of the spring term instead of during the spring term. You'll notice that the only change in language is the date:

Current Article III, Section 3:

  • Elections shall be by plurality of those voting. Those so elected assume office on May 1st.

Proposed Article III, Section 3:

  • Elections shall be by plurality of those voting. Those so elected assume office on June 1st.

A call to action: Increased involvement in local politics
by Mike Sewall

At today's luncheon, we'd like to kick off a much more active Political Action Committee.

With so many changes happening on both the local level (especially regarding the Millennium Project) and the state level (with changes happening at SUNY Institute of Technology, among other things), it is imperative that we establish a presence in the local political process. What does this mean for you? Today, we're going to ask three things of you, three pain-free ways for you to contribute to your PA.

1) Maintain Database of PA Members' Legislative and School Districts

We need to build a database that indicates in which legislative districts our members reside in Oneida County. To this end, we ask that you look at the legislative district maps on pages 4-5 in this special issue of PAnorama and write your name, address, and legislative district number on the index card provided to you. We also request that you indicate the name of the school district in which you reside.

You'll notice on page 6 a list of each County Legislator's district, name, address, and phone number. Not only is it important for you to know your local legislator, we will collect these cards and use them to help improve communications between the PA and our County Legislators.

If you live outside of Oneida County, indicate the name of your State Senator and Assemblyperson.

2) Increase PA Presence at Board of Legislators Meetings

Our second goal for 2002 and beyond is to establish our presence at the Board Meetings of Oneida County Legislators. Since the Legislators ultimately decide the College's budget, it would behoove us greatly to learn more about the County's financial and political processes and, at the same time, help educate the county legislators about our needs as the faculty and staff of their community college.

Therefore, we ask that you sign up on the sheet that being passed around. You can volunteer to attend just one Board of Legislators meetings or to attend a few of them. On page 7, you'll find the currently scheduled Board meetings for 2002. Meetings typically are held at 2:00 pm on the second and fourth Wednesday after the first Monday of each month in the Legislative Chamber (10th floor) of the Oneida County Office Building.

Details and revisions appear on their website <>.

3) Communicate with Legislators Individually

We would like each of you to write--on PA stationery--a letter of congratulations to your County Legislator on their recent election. This will also increase the visibility of our union. Contact me for stationery.

VOTE/COPE campaign kicks off
by Bill Perrotti
VOTE/COPE Coordinator

This year we are starting our annual VOTE/COPE campaign today, Friday, January 18, at our annual PA Spring Luncheon. That's right, we're first going to feed you and then we will solicit voluntary contributions to NYSUT's VOTE/COPE fund. Since I will be out of town on the 18th at a professional society meeting, I will unfortunately not be able to attend the luncheon. I do hope that you enjoy the food and the camaraderie and the information sharing--and that you all decide to donate to VOTE/COPE and that you are generous in your donations.

VOTE/COPE (Committee on Political Education) is the non-partisan political action operation of the New York State United Teachers. It coordinates the voluntary contributions of NYSUT members throughout the state and makes contributions to NYSUT-endorsed candidates and NYSUT-supported general campaign committees. NYSUT's endorsements are based solely on candidates' stands and records on issues that relate to public education and/or organized labor (both of which are us).

The VOTE/COPE funds collected are by law kept separate from the operating funds of NYSUT and are managed by a statewide committee composed of NYSUT's elected officers and two other NYSUT members. Because these funds are used in political campaigns affecting virtually every region and election district in the state, and because up to 40% of the funds collected may be returned to the contributing local, VOTE/COPE reflects NYSUT's ongoing commitment to the grass-roots involvement of its members in their respective K-12 and higher education locals.

Therefore, when we give, we first help ourselves by fueling a remarkably efficient and effective political action operation that steadfastly represents our collective interests every day in Albany. Second, the VOTE/COPE funds collected from our members and remitted back to us support our own evolving PA programs aimed at increasing our visibility, community involvement, and political effectiveness within Oneida County.

I'm sure I don't need to remind you all that our compensation here at MVCC leaves much to be desired when compared to that of other like professionals in Oneida County and throughout the state. Our circumstance cannot be separated from our main funding sources, NYS and Oneida County--both of which are political entities. Our ability to influence funding requires that we become and remain a visible, articulate, involved presence in the political process and that we continue to develop and strengthen our ties with other NYSUT locals in Central New York and with all of organized labor in this region.

We can't fix things overnight and from the perspective of outreach and political involvement, up until 4 to 5 years ago the PA has not been a player in this larger arena. For us as a local to make significant progress in the work life of our membership, that must change. I think we are now on the threshold of making things happen because everywhere you look in the organization, you see more members involved and new things happening as Ellis has previously described in PAnorama.

But for this change to continue to the point where we are able to begin to influence our future, VOTE/COPE funds are critical. So please be generous in your financial support. At today's luncheon, each of you will receive a bit of additional information about VOTE/COPE and the extent of our contributions during the past year. You will also receive a VOTE/COPE enrollment card and a payroll deduction authorization form. I'd like to make the following requests:

  • If you are already a contributor, please consider increasing your contribution by $1 per pay period.
  • If you are not currently contributing, consider starting with a $1 per pay period donation. That represents a $26 per year commitment (approximately $.07 per day when figured on a calendar year basis).

Presently less than one-quarter of our members contribute to VOTE/COPE. We're a union. We're in this together. Biologists support psychologists support counselors support technical assistants support artists support computer technicians support financial aid counselors support mathematicians support faculty in the trades support tutors support nurses support physicists support admission counselors and on and on and on…. We are one PA and we must improve our rate of contribution.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if, today, we were able to increase the proportion of the membership contributing to VOTE/COPE to over 75% and in the following week to 100%? We need to help ourselves and VOTE/COPE is one important way by which we can do just that. Without a doubt: It is money very well spent. Plus, with payroll deduction, it's painless and automatic. Please support your union so that we can all move forward together. Thanks.

Join our team for America's Greatest Heart Run/Walk
by Luther Riedel

Saturday, February 23
10:30 am [five-mile walk]
Utica College

This year, the America's Greatest Heart Run/Walk in Utica is going to see a major new player on the streets: the MVCC Professional Association! We'll be out in force, with our tee shirts, our banner, and our proud members walking strong.

As Chair of the Community Outreach Committee, I feel that it is imperative for the 8,000+ participants in this event to see how active PA members are in the community. We're already out there--I am told that many PA members participate in the Heart Run/Walk every year. Now it's time to make sure that people recognize us as PA members. Therefore, at today's luncheon, you will receive registration forms for this year's Heart Run/Walk.

When completing the form, it is very important that you note the following:

Team Name: MVCC PA
Team Captain: Luther Riedel
Team Category: Union

If you participate each year, please consider walking with our team. We will provide tee shirts with the new PA logo as well as bring the PA banner. If you have not yet participated in the Run/Walk, this year is the perfect time to do so!

The American Heart Association is dedicated to reducing disability and death due to heart disease and stroke, our nation's #1 killer. By participating in the Heart Run/Walk, not only will you enjoy the benefits of vigorous exercise but funds raised from the event will go to the support of lifesaving research, plus professional and educational community programs conducted by the Heart Association.

Participants are encouraged to seek support and contributions from friends, family, and colleagues to raise the $30 registration fee. If you cannot join us this year, consider sponsoring a fellow PA member. But, please, if you can, JOIN US! Let's increase the total number of Heart Walkers/Runners by about 220 individuals this year!

Collective Bargaining update
by Sam Drogo

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire on August 31st of 2002. The Association has been working to insure a new Agreement will be in place on September 1 of 2002.

The process started with the October membership survey. The results of this survey provided essential guidance to the Executive Board and the Negotiating Team in establishing the goals and priorities for bargaining.

Following the completion of the survey, the Executive Board and the Negotiations Team used the Annual Regional Leadership Conference sponsored by the Utica Office of NYSUT to review the survey results. Once this review was completed, the Negotiations Team used the remainder of this weekend conference to begin work on a PA bargaining proposal for exchange with management.

Using the concerns and desires PA members had communicated in the survey, recent Association grievance activity, and research materials provided by NYSUT, the PA Negotiating Team developed an outline for a contract proposal. This outline established the goals for bargaining and identified the specific items to be addressed in the PA proposal. The members of the committee, working as individuals or in pairs, spent a month developing proposed contract language to achieve these goals.

From the middle of November until late December, the PA team met at least once a week. These times were used to review and modify the contract proposals team members had developed. During this period, there was also a meeting between the PA team and the College's chief negotiator. This meeting was used to establish ground rules for negotiations and to determine a tentative date for the exchange of proposals for a new agreement. On Saturday, December 22, contract proposals were ex-changed. On January 2, the PA team met to review the College's proposal. On the morning of January 10, the PA team met once more to prepare for an afternoon meeting with the College that same day. Formal negotiation began on January 10 at 1:00 in the afternoon. Chief Negotiator Jerry Brown, Dean of Human Resources, and Ralph Feola, Vice President for Administrative Services, are representing the College. The PA team consists of Dennis Rahn, Marie Czarnecki, Cynthia Villanti, Paul Halko, and Sam Drogo (Negotiations Chair).

Negotiations continued on the morning of January 11 and are also scheduled this week for January 17 and 18. The good news: First, never have we made such progress so early in the negotiations cycle. Second, the parties have been able to identify five areas in which the PA and Management proposals are somewhat similar. These may be areas that can be resolved quite readily.

The bad news: In most areas--and in particular those areas which are central to an agreement--the College proposal and the PA proposal are miles apart. In critical areas like workload, compensation and benefits, the College proposal is at best indeterminate and in many instances overtly regressive. In contrast the PA proposal improves compensation, improves and maintains employee benefits, clarifies and adds equity to our work obligation, provides for maintaining a safe and healthful work place, and gives us more control over the resources we need in order to do our jobs well. The PA proposal serves to ameliorate the institutionally identified problems of under-compensation and low morale, while the College proposal exacerbates or is silent towards these issues.

The Association team will do its best to deliver a fair and timely contract. However the signs so far indicate an uphill battle. For now we need your understanding and patience. In the future you, the membership, may be asked to take a more active role in the negotiations process.

Call for PAnorama submissions
by Cynthia Villanti

Want one more way to contribute to your PA? Write and submit an article for publication in everyone's favorite newsletter, PAnorama!

As you know, we have several new features, including a monthly introduction to new members (very cleverly titled "New Members Feature") and a regularly occurring feature titled "PracticalAdvice" (one can do so much with the initials "P" and "A" ;-). We are particularly interested in receiving submissions for the "Practical Advice" feature. Rich Henry provided the inaugural column in last month's edition with his eminently useful article on how to effectively report computer-related problems.

Think about it. Everyone in the PA is an expert in some area, whether it's related to your position here at MVCC or related to a personal hobby or interest. You could write a "Practical Advice" column to teach your colleagues about training for the Boilermaker or to share your tips on personal financial management or about dealing with tax-time pressure. You could share with colleagues your advice on traveling, quilting, home repairs, collecting, health care, creating art, or automobile maintenance. We're also soliciting articles on education-related issues, especially in the fields of health care, developing and teaching of web-based courses, and assessment.

Retirees are invited to contribute their thoughts and reflections on unionism, education, or their experiences at MVCC, too. Given my relatively brief tenure thus far at MVCC (four years), I'd love to hear suggestions of individual retirees whom you feel might write an article.

A special call goes out for original artwork and cartoons with a union- or education-related theme for publication in PAnorama. These can be stand-only pieces or created to accompany a specific article or feature (such as the updates from the Grievance, Education & Training, Negotiations, or Political Action Committees).

Finally, as always, PAnorama accepts letter to the editor. This newsletter is your forum in which to voice your opinions! All of the above types of articles and artwork may be considered for the annual statewide NYSUT Journalism Competition as well as for the annual nationwide AFT Communications Association Journalism Competition.

PAnorama is published during the second week of each month. Direct your inquires and submissions to me as follows:

Cynthia Villanti
PAnorama Editor
Humanities Department
Payne Hall 316A

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