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  Main >  Member Communications > PAnorama > November 2002

PAnorama: November 2002

Contract passes!

A new three-year contract has been ratified by the membership. To be in effect from September 1, 2002, until August 31, 2005, it provides yearly salary increases for continuing employees with additional equity distributions especially for those at or near the minimum for their rank.

The contract also expands health care coverage to include family dental and establishes both a benefit fund for PA members and a flex plan for health care savings. Moreover, contributions to 403b plans will be made on behalf of those opting to retire, up to five per year.

Under the new contract, drug co-pays are established at $5 for generic drugs and $10 for name brands for a 30-day supply or $10 and $20 for a three-month mail-in. Increases in overload compensation occur in years two and three.

In addition, this agreement provides for joint committees to discuss issues related to instructional technology, dual credit, and academic advisement. Recommendation procedures for promotion, and probationary, continuing, and career appointments have been adjusted, as have some procedures for evaluations and overload.

Voting on the contract was held on October 24th and 25th. Ballots were mailed to the homes of all 217 PA members. At the close of voting at 4:00 pm on Friday, 127 ballots had been returned: 114 in favor, 12 opposed, and 1 that was invalidated because unmarked.

Signed copies of the contract have been sent to the Oneida County Board of Legislators for approval. A vote there is expected soon. Electronic copies of the new contract have been sent to all members. Paper copies of the document will be distributed as soon as they are available.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

On Sunday, October 20, PA team leaders for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer included, from left, Paul Andrews, Andrea Maunz, Jackie Womack (kneeling), Luther Riedel, Barbara Scantlebury, Wendy Palczynski (event coordinator), and Steve Getchell. The PA raised hundreds of dollars in support of the American Cancer Society.

Upcoming Community Outreach events include a holiday charity fundraiser and a food drive. Details forthcoming -- stay tuned!

Help support the Foundation
by Paul Halko

The MVCC Foundation needs our help.

As a member of the Foundation Committee, I know firsthand about the many ways the Foundation supports our College's facilities and programs, in addition to providing $150,000 for a variety of scholarships for our students every year. Often without realizing it, everyone in the MVCC community benefits from the many contributions the Foundation makes each year.

Several instructional programs have benefited from Foundation grants. Blackboard, the software that is used to deliver our online courses, is made possible by the Foundation, as was our new theater's orchestra pit and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.

Annually, $5,000 in grants is provided for faculty and staff development. MVCC's athletic programs have received grants also. Scoreboards, a scorer's table, and folding chairs for athletes were purchased with Foundation funds.

Although the donations of companies such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Sodexho have contributed a total of $225,000 to benefit the Foundation, our dollars are needed as well. Even $1.00 a week would be welcome to support the programs that assist our students and improve our campus community in many ways.

I'm a contributor, and I hope you'll join me in helping the MVCC Foundation.

UFCW Local One invites your participation in The People's Campaign: Justice at Wal-Mart

Thursday, Nov. 21, 4 to 7 pm
Wal-Mart Super Center
New Hartford

This is a national "day of action" effort by UFCW and the AFL-CIO aimed at building a grassroots movement to transform Wal-Mart into a responsible employer and corporate citizen.

From the President's Desk
by Ellis Gage Searles

Now, fourteen months after the negotiations process officially began, we have an agreement. Pending approval by the Oneida County Board of Legislators, our new contract will be in effect until August of 2005.

It's a good contract, the product of hundreds of hours of information gathering, planning, and negotiating, and it's a welcome first step towards the salary equity that we have been working to achieve. We can be proud of the hard work that went into this process, and we can see it as a team effort.

While our negotiators met hour after hour to argue for our positions, discuss articles, and refine contract language, other PA members were at work as well. Building community awareness on campus and off, bringing information to lawmakers both locally and statewide, getting the message out, Association members have been laboring on our collective behalf for many months now.

Make no mistake about it. What happens at the negotiating table does not happen in a vacuum. The common good comes about only when we work together. And so we have reason to be pleased.

But we also have reason to be concerned.

When the ballots were counted, there were not enough of them. If a membership of 217 returns only 127 ballots, one wonders why. Compared to a national or statewide election turnout, of course, the number looks good. But in a vote that is so close to home, so significant in its impact on our daily lives, it does not.

The low morale that seems to have settled heavily over our campus may be one explanation. A dissatisfaction with some of the contract's provisions may be another. A belief that one individual's vote makes little difference may be a third. But whatever explanations one offers, the 58% turnout is a disappointment, suggesting a perplexing lack of engagement on the part of too many of our members.

How can we address the challenge that this represents?

One point is irrefutable. Increasing numbers of members have been getting involved in PA committees and initiatives in recent months, and we have achieved a great deal. It is reasonable to conclude then, that if others among us should step forward to make a commitment to our union and, through that, to the betterment of our institution and the quality of our professional lives, we can achieve even more.

So, the challenge now is to strive towards that end. Through the recently inaugurated Local Action Project, we hope to find out how to "get out the vote," and then do it. That way, all together, we can generate the energy we'll need to continue the upward trajectory that this contract has begun.

In 2005, I'm hoping for 100%.

A reminder about waivers

As spring schedules are being finalized, the issue of waivers may come up.

Waivers provide a mechanism that allows a faculty member to accept a schedule as assigned by the Administration despite the fact that it violates one of the contract's provisions. Such violations may include, for example, longer work days or more course preparations than the contract allows.

Reasons for waivers vary, but usually are a result of the number of courses available in a certain discipline or an unexpected class cancellation.

Contract provisions that limit the number of hours in a work day and the number of course preparations a faculty member may be assigned are for the protection of all our members. So, it is the PA's duty to ensure they are enforced, except in cases where a waiver is unavoidable. Obviously, then, waivers are inappropriate for accommodating the personal preferences of individuals.

From Campus to Community: Local Action Project team aims to make the most of our natural resources
by Cynthia Villanti

As you know, the PA is the first community college local to receive a NYSUT Local Action Project (LAP) grant. Your LAP team leaders have adopted the motto "From Campus to Community" to highlight our goals of increasing active participation of PA members in outreach and political action initiatives both at the college and in the community.

To this end, we have developed a membership survey, which we unveiled at our LAP kick-off event--the Monster Mash Halloween party in October--to discover what our members already are doing on campus and in the community as well as what our members would like to be doing.

To encourage your completion of this important survey, we will order a new blue polo shirt, embroidered with the PA logo, for you upon submission of your completed survey. You can see samples of our snazzy shirts in the PA bulletin boards on the 3rd floor of Payne Hall, in the lobby of Academic Building, and by Interlude in Alumni College Center.

Also, we've made completion of the survey even easier by providing the option of completing a paper version or an online version. If you prefer to complete the paper version, simply complete the blue form (already delivered to your campus mailbox) and return it to one of your LAP team leaders. The last page of the survey (page 9) is for anonymous feedback, so you should remove that page and submit it to the designated PA box in the Utica or the Rome campus library.

If you prefer to complete the online survey, go to our website at and click the Surveys & Forms link in the Membership Action page. Or go directly to

You will find links to both the main survey and the anonymous feedback portion of the survey. When you click Submit, your survey will be emailed to the LAP team, and an order for your shirt will be processed.

Your honest and thorough completion of this survey will provide us with a better sense of the ways in which PA members already contribute to the college and community as well as the ways in which you would be willing to participate.

We plan to make the most of our natural resources. For example, if we learn that you are active in a local organization, we might make that group a beneficiary of a future Community Outreach fundraiser. If we learn that you have an interest in serving on one of the PA committees, we will remind you to place your name on the election nomination ballots in the spring. Many of the things you're already doing can be applied to the benefit of the entire membership.

Other survey responses will enable us to educate people both at the college and in the community about the variety of ways in which PA members serve the community. We all know that our membership includes published writers and textbook authors, officers of national professional organizations, active members of statewide groups, contributors to a range of organizations in the Mohawk Valley, etc., but we must do a better job of publicizing this information to those outside the campus.

Together, we will build a more effective union--one that will make a difference "from campus to community."

The Importance of Labor Unions in Society
by Tracy Zimmerman, Recipient of the 2001-2002 PA Scholarship

Labor unions are important in society not only to represent the interests of the vast majority of the individual employees, but also to see labor rights as part of a larger issue concerning basic democratic rights inside and outside of the workplace.

As citizens of the United States, we understand democracy and our rights in this country. We have fought for freedom and equality throughout the centuries, and we will continue until there is an alteration in society and the way that individuals think.

However, for many people, democracy--as well as everything we fight for--stops at the front door of their workplace.

Things are no longer fair in these workplaces, and people are not free to speak or to do as they please. Instead, it is a place where individuals learn relations of power, struggle for equality, and take on roles essentially as servants. As strange and far fetched as it sounds to those who truly understand democracy, these workers learn that they are not entitled to the rights and privileges we hope to enjoy as free citizens in a free country.

Day after day, without a second thought, they put on a facade early in the morning and go about their day without rights and without the right to display their individualism.

Here's an example from my personal experience. I have worked in the field of customer service since I was fifteen years old. With complete certainty I know that the customer and the boss are not always correct. I know this because I have had to endure a great number of racist remarks, sexist comments, and other degrading statements that steal something away from our humanity and who we are.

Of course we have laws and rights that "protect" us, but will they pay our bills and support our families? It is almost as if these workplaces are a separate entity within the United States, as if workers relinquish their rights when they take on their role as an employee.

Labor unions are an irreplaceable element and an advancement in our society that help to actualize workplace rights and lead the battle against authoritarian workplaces that steal our democracy, our rights and privileges, and the most cherished value of every US citizen: freedom.

I am not saying that all is fair in all current labor unions, yet they are step on our path to equality and individual rights. Labor unions in America build communities and hold together people in their battle towards justice in the workplace.

They bring together individuals who have little to no rights, who are isolated individuals sometimes forced into competition with each other. They form a collective voice that has a stronger say in their environment, both in and out of the workplace.

Editor's Note: Tracy is graduating in December, with plans to transfer to a four-year college in January. With a 3.9 GPA and an outstanding record of college and community service, Tracy should have no trouble achieving her ultimate goal of becoming a clinical psychologist.

Got questions? Ask your new union/community counselors: Margaret Partyka and Beverly Quist

For the past nine weeks, two PA members have been busy every Tuesday night, participating in two-hour sessions so that they can serve as a resource for you.

The PA sponsored Beverly Quist of the Social Science/Criminal Justice Department and Margaret Partyka of the Business Office to be trained as volunteer Peer Information and Referral Counselors for our membership. They are now qualified to serve as a resource for you and, by extension, for your students in need of health and human service programs.

In this program, sponsored by the Central New York Labor Agency (735.6101) and ably organized by Executive Director Debra Hagenbuch, Beverly and Margaret spent weeks in intensive training on the following:

  • health and human service programs in our community
  • eligibility requirements for individuals to participate in these programs
  • how to best identify and assist persons in need
  • how to refer persons in need

Both Beverly and Margaret learned information on topics such as the disease of alcoholism, mental health, child care, food stamps, home energy assistance program, and techniques for early intervention.

The following is a list of types of agencies about which they learned, including private, non-profit, county, and state agencies. Direct questions to either of your new union/community counselors:

Services, Programs, and Resources Reviewed in the
2002 CNY Labor Agency Union/Community Counselor Training Program

  • alcohol rehabilitation and addictions treatment
  • counseling centers
  • childcare, youth, and teen
  • elderly and homebound
  • domestic violence
  • healthcare
  • employment and training
  • financial support
  • on-site workplace assistance
  • public assistance

Healthcare Enrollment Forms
by Dennis Rahn

Enrollment forms for the new dental and prescription plans are available in Human Resources. They soon will be available online but you must print and sign them as original signatures are needed.


  • To insure receipt of your prescription ID cards by Jan. 1, your form is due to HR by Dec. 2, 2002.


  • To be enrolled by Jan. 1, enrollment forms must be returned by Dec. 2, 2002. ID cards are not issued or needed to make a claim. You can obtain a claim form in HR or from DeltaDental's website.

The future of SUNY IT and its relationship to MVCC
by Jim Smrtic

The Education & Training Committee recently sponsored a lecture by Dr. Ronald Sarner, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome on the future of SUNY IT and its relationship to MVCC.

On November 6th, Dr. Sarner spoke to over 40 members of the MVCC community on this topic. SUNY IT has decided to offer four-year degrees in a number of curricula and will start accepting freshmen in Fall 2003. Between MVCC, HCCC, and SUNY IT, then, three SUNY institutions in very close proximity will be enrolling freshmen next year.

In response to concerns about the effect this will have on MVCC, Dr. Sarner stressed that the majority of their freshmen will come from out of the area and would likely not have attended MVCC. Furthermore, he stated, freshmen and sophomores likely will be block scheduled and will take one or two courses in their major along with a common core of courses related to food (such as "the science of food") to satisfy General Education requirements.

I believe that MVCC will remain the only option for a comprehensive offering of 100- and 200-level courses in the Mohawk Valley.

PA contract negotiations: The first time around
by Jim Dyer, Retired (Humanities Department)

When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.
~ Mark Twain

With Twain's words as caveat, I'll try to recall what led up to the first negotiating round at MVCC and give a brief summary of how negotiations went.

It was around the time Payne Hall opened, probably the early 70s. I had begun teaching at MVCC in 1968. At the time many of the same faculty discontents one hears of today were just as prevalent. Briefly put, the criticisms and complaints centered on the way we were treated by administration on a variety of issues.

All of these played a role in the formation of the PA, but the immediate impetus was the way in which the most recent faculty pay raise had been handled. The largest percentage increases were at the top of the academic ladder, the smallest at the bottom. Mine enabled me to take the family on that trip to Sauquoit we'd always yearned for.

A meeting was called at a local restaurant (can't recall which one), and there was an excellent faculty turnout. I believe that Bob Jorgenson of the Physical Education Department was instrumental in organizing that initial meeting.

The Taylor Law had been passed fairly recently, and faculties were organizing all over the state. At our meeting a committee was named to explore the possibility of unionizing. Following procedures established by state law, and after considering various possible union affiliations, the PA was proposed and accepted by the faculty. I should add that faculty approval came not without resistance among faculty. Several senior faculty were strongly opposed to unionizing.

Now I'm on shaky ground; it seems to me that in the beginning we were an independent. I think the NYSUT/AFT connection came a few years later. Maybe someone will check me on that.

In any case, it was soon time to negotiate our first contract, and I was lucky enough (?) to be named to the team. Our chair was Dan Fitzgerald of the Business Department. Not long after that first contract, Dan left MVCC for another position. Stan Lucas (now deceased) of Life Sciences was on the faculty team, as was Dave Michaud (also deceased), who was an Assistant Director of the then-Evening Division. The final member of the group was Milt Jannone of Social Sciences.

Needless to say, administration hardly welcomed all this with open arms, and their negotiating approach made them appear to be more interested in nipping the PA in the proverbial bud than in settling on a contract.

On the other side of the table were the late F. Paul Graham, whose title today would be VP for Administration; the late Dr. Armand Festine, Dean of the Evening Division; Mr. Russell (Tiny) Williams, Chairman of the County Board of Legislators (also deceased); Mr. Ted Roback, a county government financial officer; and--on occasion--a Mr. Bob Gray, a paid outside management negotiating consultant. There may have been another member of the administrative team, but if so I can't recall who it was.

The process was agonizing.

We were told of laws which precluded many of our proposals, only to discover later that no such laws existed. Other proposals were met with ludicrous counterproposals, like a 10% across-the-board pay cut. Scheduled sessions were canceled time after time because someone on the other side was "unavailable." It was clear that we were in a war of attrition, with the other side's definition of victory being the breakup of the infant union. There were frequent impasses, arbitrations, even a number of mid-meeting walkouts by both sides.

But somehow we finally arrived at a contract that probably made neither side ecstatic. It provided no sensational breakthroughs that I recall, but it was a solid jumping off point for contracts to come.

A few final notes:

  • On the management side of the table the people from county government weren't nearly as hostile as the MVCC administrators.
  • The faculty team received no remuneration, reduced load, or compensation of any kind. &
  • I also don't remember who was the first PA President during all this. Can one of you old timers help me?

My most sincere thanks go to all PA negotiators since that time. It's no fun, pal!


NYSUT Regional Educational Conference
by Carmelita Lomeo

On November 15th, I represented the PA at the NYSUT Utica Regional Office's Educational Conference.

In addition to enjoying dinner and hearing keynote speaker Alex Blair, I attended the workshop session titled "Books! Books! Books!" by Frank Hodges of Hodge Podge Books in Albany. Hodges selected from the newest in K-6 children's literature and read stories to the audience for an hour. It was fun, relaxing, and very useful for the classes that I teach.

Building our new PA benefit fund
by Paul Halko

On November 1-3, Mike Donaruma and I attended the NYSUT Benefits Conference at the Desmond in Albany.

A major gain in our recent contract will be the formation of a benefit fund. Mike and I went to the conference to gather information on creating and managing one. We were joined by K-12, higher ed, and school-related professional locals from across the state.

The first session we attended was titled "Introduction to Benefit Funds," where the presenter reviewed the basics, such as what is a trust, what is a trustee, how a benefit fund functions, and some of the ethical issues involved.

At the second session, "New Trustees," the presenter went more in depth on fiduciary responsibilities of operating a benefit fund, the laws that govern these funds, basic insurance guidelines, etc.

The most informative session was the hands-on "Creating a Benefits Package" workshop. Here, we were put into small groups of 5 to 6 people to create a practice benefit fund. Given the basic information and guidelines, we had to work together to create a sample benefit fund. In our group, we managed to purchase dental, vision, and long-term disability coverage for our "local" and we even maintained the required fund balance.

The final session that Mike and I went to was on "Managing Fund Finances." In this workshop, we learned how to set up accounts, how to follow federal laws and guidelines for benefit funds like the one we'll have, and how to find out other specific details on the management of self-funded entities.

We both returned to MVCC with a 3-inch binder filled with information and resources on everything from the basics of creating a benefit fund, managing a benefit fund, types of benefits a fund might select for membership coverage, information on HIPAA, bargaining trends, and legal information.

The Benefits Conference was excellent, and the PA plans to hold the first benefit fund meeting within the next week or two, so we can discuss the establishment of the benefit fund trustees, the actual trust document, and other vital structures. The sooner we get our benefit fund active, the sooner the entire membership will benefit.

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