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  Main >  Member Communications > PAnorama > May 2002

PAnorama: May 2002



From the President's Desk
by Ellis Gage Searles

The survey is the talk of the campus, and rightfully so.

It's not that the questions on the Employee Survey are new or that the findings are surprising, but that the discussion is now revitalized, inclusive, and open, thereby creating a most welcome opportunity for change.

When the survey was first announced, it was met with understandable skepticism. Many long-time members of the MVCC community expressed doubts about its potential effectiveness, about whether the energy they would expend in completing the form would be for naught. They had been down this path before.

But to our collective credit, and as witness to our resilience and to our belief in the institution that we all care so deeply about, when the questionnaires were distributed, members both veteran and new participated. The seriousness with which this was done is reflected in the range of our responses to the questions. Each of us answered with care, discriminating among the categories, underscoring the reality: there are things we like about our professional lives and things that frustrate, disappoint, perhaps even anger us. Clearly, the College must take these survey results seriously. Beginning now.

It has long been acknowledged that morale is low. Even a quick examination of the summary report vividly demonstrates the source of this problem, not just for PA members, but for every constituency on campus. With the data organized by levels of agreement and satisfaction from most to least, we see the reasons, one after the other, at the bottom of each list. With what are we dissatisfied? Leadership. Decision-making. Rewards. Communication. Motivation. Resource allocation.

Of course, anecdotal evidence of our dissatisfaction has abounded in the hallways and offices for a long time, but this instrument crystallizes it and provides a ready made to-do list of areas for improvement.

Perhaps now the strategic planning process, which has already cited morale as a primary focus, will begin to address this array of fundamental concerns. It is not enough to identify problems. We must set about solving them. The Administration must begin in earnest. The distribution and publication of this survey is a very positive first step. PA members, for their part, have engaged in the process by expressing themselves, in each response and in comment after comment, articulately and with heart.

More comments and suggestions will surely be forthcoming.



PA members get rave reviews for "Lefty" by Marie Czarnecki
by Marie Czarnecki

PA members and students were a hit in the recent MVCC Readers' Theatre production of the 1935 Clifford Odets one-act play "Waiting for Lefty," a play with a union theme.

The "all-star" cast, directed by Liberal Arts Theatre Coordinator Paul Cruskie, included Readers' Theatre veterans Jerry Goodman, Jim Gifford, Marie Czarnecki, Tim Messick, and Paul Cruskie along with Luther Riedel, who made his Readers' Theatre debut. All are card-carrying PA members.

The cast also featured student actors Ryan Lower, Liz Zogby, and Rialda Albegic as well as the students in Cruskie's Acting 1 and 2 classes. Written in 1935, "Waiting for Lefty," narrated by Albegic, dramatizes the plight of workers during the Great Depression. Despite putting in long hours on the job, NYC cab driver Joe Mitchell (Gifford) cannot feed his children or pay his rent. Spurred on by his gutsy wife, Edna (Czarnecki), Mitchell organizes his fellow union buddies to go on strike for a living wage. Corrupt union leader Mr. Fatt (Goodman) and union buster Clayton (Cruskie) try to quell the angry workers.

Meanwhile, the doomed future of the young lovers Florrie (Zogby) and cabbie Sid (Lower) parallels the situation of the older couple, Joe and Edna. Florrie's brother Irv (Riedel) warns the couple against getting married in such hard times. Further corruption is revealed when the industrialist Fayette (Messick) offers young chemist Miller (Riedel) a bribe to act as a spy and develop poison gas. Miller refuses to compromise his principles. In another scene, political corruption and prejudice is revealed as Dr. Benjamin (Riedel) is fired because he is Jewish and re-placed with an incompetent political appointee.

His principled and frustrated superior, Dr. Barnes (Cruskie), powerless to protect him, says, "The men who know their jobs don't run anything here, except the motormen on the trolleys."

At a union meeting, the downtrodden workers are rallied by Agate (Messick), but they are all waiting for the leadership of Lefty to have the courage to strike. But Lefty never comes. The workers wonder if they have been betrayed. When the workers get the stunning news that Lefty has been murdered for his left-wing ideas, Agate calls on the workers for a response. The play ends in a unified shout: "STRIKE, STRIKE, STRIKE!!!"



PA kicks off Educators Meet Legislators project
by Mike Sewall

The Professional Association has begun its series of informative presentations at the Oneida County Board of Legislators meetings.

At the May 15th session, President Schafer explained the project to the legislators and introduced PA President Searles. Ellis addressed the group and then introduced our first presenters, Jessica Basi and Cynthia Villanti.

Jessica, Program Director for Ready, Set, College!, discussed the program, which enjoys funding in large part through the County, and updated the legislators on its status and success.

Cynthia next spoke about improvements in technology on campus, from the smart classrooms in the new Information Technology building to the College's adoption of Blackboard as the new CMS by which to deliver web-based courses.

We believe that this Board of Legislators session will air on the local public access station on Tuesday, May 21st, in the evening. Questions about the project? Want to participate? Contact me at msewall@mvcc.edu.



Negotiations Update
by Sam Drogo

As many of you know, the Negotiations Team continues to put in long hours on behalf of the entire Professional Association. Despite County and State budget problems, the PA maintains its position that we deserve compensation increases. Since the last update in the April PAnorama, in which Ellis noted the team's 50 hours of service, the team has devoted 23 more hours of their time to this important work. The team and the College have reached some agreement on issues relating to evaluation, web-based courses, and promotion.

Currently, the team is gearing up to tackle tough issues relating to compensation and benefits and continues to work hard both at and away from the bar-gaining table to make sure we have the necessary resources to achieve a favorable settlement. The team has prepared itself well by using NYSUT Utica Regional Office resources to gather data. The team has one more bargaining session in May and now is working out the details of its summer schedule of negotiations meetings.



Coordinators: Take Note!

What appeared in last month's Grievance Committee Update bears repeating. If you have not already done this, it would be wise to do it soon:

If you expect to have a coordinator agreement for next Fall, you should be sure to clarify what the terms and conditions of your agreement will be.

Some coordinators have been informed that there will be significant changes in their agreements. These changes included both lower pay and fewer course load reductions. Again, be aware that the contract allows either party to terminate the agreement as long as notice is given at least 30 days prior to its expiration date.



OSSD honors PA members
by Lynn Igoe

Each year, the Mohawk Valley Community College Office for Services to Students with Disabilities joins together with students to recognize college employees who have gone "above and beyond the call of duty" in their service to students with disabilities. And each year, Professional Association members make up the bulk of the list of those being honored.

The following is a list of the 2002 honorees who are mem-bers of the PA, accompanied by a brief quote from their nomination letters. It would be impossible to serve the needs of our students with disabilities without the support and assistance of these valuable professionals. Along with our students, we thank and honor them.

  • Tom Capraro - "I nominate Mr. Capraro because of his passion for teaching. He is very helpful in many ways... I will be forever grateful."
  • Sam Drogo "has taken time out of his schedule to assist me in lab. Without his help, I would not be as successful as I am."
  • Ken Klein "has applied patience and common sense to help me."
  • Carm Lomeo "displayed a tremendous passion for educating her students... vast knowledge and diverse methods of teaching."
  • Gabe Melendez "has helped me find the help I needed."
  • Kevin Mokry "is willing to allow me as much time as I need and to explain the problems so I know how to answer them."
  • Jennifer Piazza "is a fantastic worker, mentor, and encouragement for me."
  • Cheryl Plescia, Luther Riedel, Jim Smrtic, Mike Sewall - "When I went through a very difficult emotional time," these four teachers "gave me enough leeway to get plugged back in. For that I am very grateful."
  • Maria Ramos "is professional, fair, an excellently skilled teacher... a shining example of what an advisor should be."
  • Donna Sawyer "is a fantastic worker, mentor, and encouragement for me."
  • Guy Snedeker "is one of the best teachers I ever had. I wouldn't have taken my math classes with anyone else."



Practical Advice: Improving Your Boilermake
by Jim Fiore

In this Practical Advice column, Jim Fiore (aka "The Fire") reveals how to reach the finish line faster. Jim is an Associate Professor in the Engineering Technologies & The Trades Department and has been teaching electrical courses at MVCC for over 20 years. His Boilermaker master's PR is 54:33. (So clearly, this is a man who knows the subject on which he advises!)

One of the neat things about living in the Mohawk Valley is the annual Boilermaker 15k road race. You can't live here and not know about it. It gets a ton of media coverage and rightly so. After all, it is the largest 15k in North America and has been considered to be the most competitive 15k on the planet in the past few years. Besides, it has arguably one of the best post-race parties you'll ever experience.

If you're like most folks, once you get past completing your first Boilermaker you'll come back for more. And that usually entails a desire to improve your finish time. Unfortunately, it's common for folks to improve very little if at all from year to year. This can be frustrating. So, the question is: What does the average runner need to do in order to make a significant improvement?

First off, let's target a fairly typical mid-pack runner. Our example will be a man perhaps in his late 30's or 40's who's reasonably active and finishes the Boilermaker in around 80 minutes (as a general rule of thumb, equivalent times for women are about 10% slower than men's times). This person is reasonably active and probably plays basketball, racquetball, swims, etc., and starts running in late March or early April when the snow melts. Gradually, his mileage is increased, eventually running several times each week. By early July, this runner is in sufficient shape to complete the Boilermaker in 80 minutes. The following year the same pattern is followed, and again the finish time is similar (surprise, surprise).

In contrast, I think a mid-pack runner can see as much as a 10 percent improvement in finishing time with proper training. Thus, our 80 minute runner could probably get down to the low 70 minute range with intelligent focus. Generally, the faster your time, the more difficult it will be to see improvement. It's probably more difficult for a 50 minute finisher to drop 30 seconds (one percent) than it is for our 80 minute finisher to drop 4 minutes (five percent).

"As you train, so shall you race." The cardinal rule of endurance training is specificity of adaptation. If you run exactly three miles every morning along a flat road in 30 minutes, you'll get very efficient at it. While this will put you in a better position to run a hilly five mile race than doing nothing, it is not the optimal way to spend your time. Basically, if you want to race faster and longer, you need to train faster and longer. Does this mean that you should go out and try to sprint up Smith Hill? No, of course not! What it does mean is that you should sometimes run farther than your target race distance, and sometimes run faster than your target race pace. You absolutely won't try to do both simultaneously!

My suggestion is very simple. Once you have gotten some mileage under your feet (preferably two months or more, and two months ahead of the race), pick two days per week to be your strength and speed days, leaving some time between. For example, if you run four days per week, typically Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, you might pick Sunday to be your strength day and Thursday to be your speed day. Instead of running pretty much the same thing on every outing, you're going to "mix it up".

Initially, your focus on Sunday will be to extend your maximal distance. Each week you'll extend the Sunday distance by about 10 to 15 percent until you're at least a couple of miles over the race distance (for the Boilermaker, you might top out at 11 or 12 miles). This will build your endurance. You will run this workout at an easy pace, although it is helpful if you try to run the second half a little faster than the first half. As a guide, you should be able to hold a conversation with a running partner during the first half without gasping for air.

On your speed day, you'll focus on running faster than race pace. There are many varieties of speed work, but we'll steer clear of the more intense stuff. Perhaps the most useful form of speed training for the mid-packer, especially those of us over 40, is something called tempo training. This is also known as threshold, lactate-threshold, and steady-state training. Tempo pace is often referred to as "comfortably hard". It is the best speed you can maintain for about a one hour duration. You're clearly working. For our 80 minute runner, tempo pace is obviously faster than current Boilermaker pace. If you can keep up an easy conversation, then you're running slower than tempo pace. On the other hand, you don't want to run too fast.

A typical tempo workout would consist of a 15 minute jog warm-up, 15 to 20 minutes at tempo pace, and then a 15 minute cool-down. If you do it correctly, you should not be exhausted at the finish. In fact, you should feel quite energetic 10 minutes later. If our former 80 minute runner is trying to finish in 74 minutes (about 8 minutes-per-mile pace), he would probably run the tempo portion in the mid 7 minutes-per-mile range. There are more accurate ways of determining tempo pace, but leave that to the serious racers for now. Another good technique to build some speed is to run some shorter road races in the 5k to 10k range. Use the middle part of the race to build to a good speed and then hold it.

Is there anything that you can do just prior to the race? First, don't go for a huge "carbo-load" dinner the night before. Carbo-loading is for marathoners. If you follow a sensible diet you'll have plenty of fuel to run 15k. Stick with something simple, light, and easy to digest the night before. Start off race day with something that you know won't bog you down (I like a few fig newtons with some fruit juice and water).

At the start area, DON'T try to weasel up to the front. Remember: The Boilermaker uses chip timing, so you won't be penalized if it takes a couple of minutes to cross the start line. Starting with a group of much faster runners is both discourteous and dangerous. You are much more likely to start too fast, put yourself in oxygen debt, and wind up with a weak finish.

Instead, start a little on the slow side (due to the initial excitement you'll be running faster than you think). Gradually speed up to your race pace over the first few miles and then hold it. If you're feeling good with a mile to go, increase your pace a bit and push it to the finish. Don't try to bottle it up for a final explosive 50 yard dash. The sustained push will get you to the finish line faster. Ideally, you want to run even or slightly negative splits. That means that your second half will be as fast or slightly faster than your first half. Virtually all of the current distance running records have been run this way. Going out fast with the hope of building a "cushion" just doesn't pan out.

I hope you find this information useful. If you're a serious competitor who's looking to drop below the one-hour mark, there are several good books that you can turn to for detailed advice and training plans. Two good titles are Daniels' Running Formula, by Jack Daniels, and Road Racing for Serious Runners by Pfitzinger and Douglas. Both books are published by Human Kinetics.

See you at the Boilermaker!



PA participation propels annual Ted Moore Run/Walk to its best year yet!

For the second year in a row, Margaret Partyka holds the title of Fastest Female 40-49! And rightfully so. She zipped along the MV campus-based course-- in the rainiest, coldest, windiest conditions ever faced by the 5K Ted Moore runners--in just 26 minutes and 20 seconds.

Many PA people contributed to this, the 5th and best of many Ted Moore Run/Walk events. Without them, this annual honor to Ted just couldn't happen, so we'd like to thank them.

First come those who also left with winged-foot trophies. PA notables include Cynthia Villanti, who took second place in her gender and age category; former PA member Rob Ichihana, who took second place in his division; and Bob Gould's son David, who placed third in his division.

Multi-talented PA stalwart Cathy Paul, Chair of the Run/Walk Committee, worked tirelessly for this event's success. She came in first place in those efforts! Other PA members contributed to the committee's work, including Bob Gould, Lou Anne Harto, Ellis Searles, and Sharon Zohne.

In true union spirit, several PA people contributed through their support of others, by donating money or by sponsoring students. These PA members are Bob Bernstein, Kathy Bernstein, Marie Czarnecki, Lynn Igoe, members of the Life Science Dept., Beverly Quist, Nelissa Rutishauser, and PA retiree Jim Dyer.

The PA thanks you all! And in next year's event, we're placing our money on Margaret.



Rallying support for Rome School for the Deaf

On the rainy afternoon of Thursday, May 2nd, a handful of PA members drove to Rome to provide solidarity and support to our fellow unionists at the NYS School for the Deaf.

The PA's newly designed picket signs were joined by many others, including those held high by members of Herkimer County BOCES, Westmoreland Teachers Association, and the Public Employees Federation--to name just a few. Members of the NYSUT Utica Regional Office strengthened the group with their support as well.

Dozens and dozens of supporters marched along the sidewalk, chanting supportive slogans to encourage progress in contract negotiations. The employees of the School for the Deaf have worked without a contract since 1999.



NYC hosts NYSUT RA and Presidents' Conference: PA delegates attend both

Two NYSUT statewide conferences were held in New York City during April.

The Local Presidents' Conference met from April 24th to 25th and included a strand of workshops organized by the Higher Education Council that focused on college and university issues, in particular state funding for higher ed and the post 9-11 assaults on academic freedom. A "crackerbarrel" session provided the opportunity for higher ed delegates to participate in an open dialogue with the officers of NYSUT. PA President Ellis Searles was among the 40 higher ed leaders in attendance.

Beginning on April 25th, the annual NYSUT Representative Assembly was the scene of much activity both indoors and on the streets of the city. Delegates Mike Sewall and Ellis Searles represented the PA. In this election year, the RA drew candidates for every high-level office in New York State. Speakers included Governor Pataki, Comptroller Carl McCall, Senate and Assembly leaders Joseph Bruno and Sheldon Silver, and Andrew Cuomo, among others.

At the same time, the business of the convention--the election of officers and the approval of resolutions--proceeded on schedule. Mike and Ellis were members of the College and University Committee, which deliberated about ten proposed resolutions, with Ellis serving as timekeeper during the session. The resolutions that were passed covered a range of issues from STAP funding to medical leave. All RA resolutions serve to guide NYSUT's legislative agenda during the upcoming year.

The RA's most invigorating hours, however, were those spent on the streets of the city. Thousands of delegates and alternates from all over the state left the New York Hilton to march in support of their colleagues who have been too long without contracts. First, a rally was held on 53rd Street near PS 111 in support of the members of UFT who teach in the New York City schools. Following that, hundreds took their banners and picket signs with them onto the subway and went downtown to FIT to rally for fellow unionists there, the members of United College Employees.

Another highlight of the RA for the PA came Saturday at the NYSUT Journalism Awards Luncheon, where PAnorama editor Cynthia Villanti accepted five awards for excellence.



Rally for Unity moves RA delegates
excerpted from NYSUT's The Bottom Line

Rebuilding through unity, thousands of delegates to the RA mobilized and moved as one through the streets of New York for a rally in support of their beleagured brothers and sisters in the United Federation of Teachers, as well as scores of other NYSUT locals who lack contracts around the state.

"...The rally between sessions on Friday, April 26, was followed by a similar event at the Fashion Institute of Technology in support of United College Employees at FIT. The 1,400-member UCE, led by President Lou Stollar, has been without a contract for two years...."

Editor's Note: UCE of FIT made a donation in support of our annual Ted Moore event.



AFT Conference held in Chicago

The AFT Higher Education Issues Conference was held April 12th to 14th in Chicago. Union representatives from college and university locals around the U.S. attended, including PA President Ellis Searles.

The first day's sessions covered negotiations, media relations, political action, and strengthening the academic workforce. Saturday focused on governance, intellectual property, and academic freedom. Sunday morning was devoted to full time/part time issues. One highlight of the conference was a lecture given by Elliott D. Sclar of Columbia University entitled "The Economics of Privatization: You Don't Always Get What You Pay For."

Throughout the weekend, the influence of politics on higher ed policies and the benefits to be gained by strengthened ties among labor unions were under discussion. Effective strategies of higher ed locals large and small were shared both in sessions and in informal settings.

Fittingly, the conference's location in Chicago, a city steeped in labor history, allowed for a Saturday afternoon guided tour that incorporated the infamous Haymarket.



Remember to vote on May 21st!

Remember to vote on your local school budgets on Tuesday, May 21st!

Attention Utica PA members: The Utica Teachers Association is endorsing Lou LaPolla & Carmen Bossone for Utica School Board. Please read the informational flyers recently received by mail from the UTA.



Register now for the Oneida County BOCES Teachers Association 2nd Annual "Back to School Classic" golf tournament

Save the date:
Sunday
September 22
@
Golf Club of Newport

The Oneida County BOCES Teachers Association is now organizing their 2nd Annual "Back to School Classic" golf tournament.

Proceeds of the tournament benefit the BTA Scholarship Fund. Last June, the BTA awarded two area graduating seniors with scholarships for the very first time and are proud to be able to recognize the students' efforts. Due to the success of the first "Back to School Classic," the BTA is able to make this an annual event. The educational members of the BTA appreciate our support so that they may continue this worthy scholarship program.

Registration is limited to the first 144 golfers in this Captain & Crew format. The $65 registration fee includes greens fees, cart, 18 holes of golf, lunch on the turn, and a steak dinner at tournament end. The event also includes door prizes, raffles, and awards to first and second place teams.

For registration forms, contact Ellis Searles or Cynthia Villanti during the summer months. If you gotta golf, golf for a good cause!



Relay for Life: Light the way to a cure

The American Cancer Society is asking people to participate in its annual team event to fight cancer by purchasing candles in memory of loved ones. The NYS School for the Deaf in Rome will be lighting candles on June 8th and 9th. For more information or to make a donation of $5 per candle, please contact Pat Mungari of the Rome Teachers Association, 310 N. George Street, Rome, NY 13440. Checks payable to American Cancer Society.



Send a message to Congress and President Bush: Enough is enough!

American workers and their families have lived too long with high priced, out-of-control prescription drug costs. It's time for our elected leaders to get to work! We want Congress and the White House to dedicate sufficient funds in the federal budget [for] a comprehensive prescription drug benefit in the Medicare program NOW. Contact your Washington representatives today. Tell them you want them to support H.R. 1400/S.699, the Allen-Kennedy-Daschel Prescription Drug Fairness for Seniors Act.



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