PAnorama: April 2003
your voice heard: The March for Public Education and 2003 PA election
2003 PA Election
It's Spring, which means election season in the PA. To make your voice heard
at the local level, nominate yourself for one of dozen plus PA leadership and
committee positions available. Nominations will be accepted from the floor at
the General Membership Meeting in IT225 on Thursday, April 24, at 4 p.m. Finalized
election ballots will be mailed the week of April 28, and voting takes place
on May 8 and 9. Don't miss this chance to get involved in the continued success
of the PA.
Massive May 3rd Rally
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers will descend upon the Empire State Plaza in
Albany on Saturday, May 3rd. Organizers want Governor Pataki to see just how
many people are opposed to his planned $1.24 billion in education cuts. Facing
an $11.5 billion state budget deficit, the Governor has said that everyone must
feel the funding cuts, but marchers will protest that education is one of the
largest. Dozens of education groups from pre-K to post-grad--along with teachers,
students, parents, taxpayers, school employees, and other supporters of public
education in New York--will rally together to make their voices heard on May
Public Higher Education Con-ference Board Chair H. Carl McCall urged New Yorkers
to step up and be heard. "This is about the future," McCall said.
"New York needs to invest in education. How can we build a solid future
without a solid foundation? How can we build a strong economy without strong
public schools, colleges and universities? If New Yorkers care, they'll be there."
"We fully expect to make history," said Blaise Salerno, chairman
of the ECB. "We will send a clear message to the Governor and Legislature:
cutting funding to public education is the wrong choice. Join us in Albany.
We need help to send that message." And help we will! The PA is organizing
carpools for faculty, staff, students, family, and friends. See Ellis for details.
PA retiree fan letter
PA retirees--people who devoted entire careers to this institution and who
helped build the PA--often get in touch to let us how they're doing and to update
their address on our mailing list. Most recently, we heard from Julius Grossman,
formerly of the Business/Management Systems Department, who writes,
"I miss the Professional Association greatly. I now have learned how
much the PA did for us at MVCC. We have a very weak NEA in this area (Labette
Community College, Kansas). It does not have the support and assertiveness
of our PA at MVCC."
Julius sends his greetings to all. If you know how to get in touch with a PA
retiree who hasn't been receiving their PAnorama, please contact PA secretary
PA is now a major sponsor of the Annual Ted Moore Run/Walk
Bill Perrotti (Professor, Life Science Department) and Don Willner (Chair, Mathematics
Editor's Note: The following letter to the editor was recently submitted
to the Observer-Dispatch by the authors.
On Sunday, April 27th, we will once again celebrate a life and sadly remember
The life was Ted Moore's, our colleague and friend; the tragedy was his senseless
death at the hands of a drunk driver while jogging on a sunny morning in December
in 1996; the event is the Sixth Annual Ted Moore Run/Walk.
Although several years have passed, the stark memory of that awful day remains.
At the time of his death, Ted was truly one of our finest teachers and acknowledged
by all to be one of the College's most influential spokespersons and leaders.
Not before or since has the institution suffered as it did in the days following
Because of Ted's devotion to family and many connections to the community,
the sense of loss was felt by a population that extended well beyond campus
boundaries. Now as the date for the event approaches we hope that many runners
in the Mohawk Valley will decide to participate and join us in commemorating
a very special life while at the same time help to raise public awareness of
this very serious societal problem.
The 9 a.m. event is sponsored by Oneida County STOP DWI, Regent Broadcasting,
WUTR Channel 20, and the MVCC Professional Association--the NYSUT local of which
Ted was President at the time of his death.
A number of area agencies whose mission centers on prevention and treatment
of substance abuse will be exhibiting. The proceeds from the Run/Walk will be
shared among one of these agencies, the Save Our Switchbacks Fund, and the Ted
Moore Scholarship Fund, which continues to benefit a growing list of qualified
Although this run can not change what has passed, it can keep alive the spirit
of a dear friend who epitomized so much of what is special about the Mohawk
Valley. We hope to see you there.
THIS JUST IN... More PA Support for the Ted Moore...
The PA has donated $500 to the Ted Moore Scholarship Fund. Our local NYSUT
Regional Office added $100, bringing this year's total contribution to $600--and
this in addition to the perennially strong PA participation in the Run/Walk.
the President's Desk ~ Our Union: What, Why, and How
by Ellis Gage Searles
"Thank you for all you do on our behalf."
"Creative solutions to problems often emanate from the Professional Association..."
"This contract is one of the best we've ever had."
Scarcely a day goes by that words like these don't come my way. As PA President,
I have the good fortune to receive such compliments on a regular basis from
active members and retirees alike.
But they aren't really for me. These expressions of support and gratitude are
directed to all those in the Association leadership who work on our collective
behalf throughout the year.
At the same time, through hall-way discussions, e-mails, and survey responses,
colleagues may offer advice, suggestions, or "what if" scenarios--welcome
stimuli for the kind of discourse that leads to positive change.
In the recently published MVCC Employee Survey, though, two respondents expressed
sharp criticism of the Association, its leadership, and its work.
While it would be pointless to respond to the name-calling that unfortunately
characterizes these anonymous critiques, they nevertheless serve as reminders
of the need for the leadership to continue to articulate the broader vision
that undergirds the day-to-day operation of the union. Indeed, the day-to-day
often occupies us so fully that our long-term goals may go unsaid.
If there are members who don't fully understand the union's philosophy and
direction, they may question why, for example, there are parties for the membership
or lapel pins or shirts--and how they are paid for. Thinking such things frivolous,
they may then choose not to participate in union decision-making. And they may
feel disenfranchised. None of this should happen in our union.
In an effort to provide a better perspective on where the PA has been and where
it would like to go, I offer, first, some history.
Since 1970, the Professional Association has been an effective advocate for
our rights, crafting strong contract language--much of which has served as a
model for other locals around the state and across the country--and then protecting
that language through vigilant grievance action.
In recent years, however, there has been a growing awareness among the Association
leadership that continued improvements to that contract--and, by extension,
to everything that is important to our professional lives--would come about
only when we began to address the forces both on campus and off that have an
impact upon us. Furthermore, there was the realization that this could happen
only through the increased involvement of more of the membership in the life
of the union.
Our collective future would depend on it. What's more, the vitality of the
institution that we care so deeply about would depend on it, too.
The question thus became, "How can we make this happen?"
In the fall of 1998, a group of twelve PA leaders began meeting to try to answer
this question. After a marathon weekend followed by hours more of discussion,
a proposal for reorganizing the Association was hammered out. It was based on
one fundamental principle: the broader the participation of the membership,
the more we could accomplish.
Ambitious in its hopes, the new constitution's success would depend on members'
willingness to become involved.
Well, become involved we did. Names appeared on ballots. Committees set to
work. Little by little, new ideas were put into action.
The union's essential work went on unabated; contract negotiations and grievance
processing remained top priorities. But with more member involvement, we could
begin to focus more effectively on the larger picture too--reaching out to policy
makers, legislators, and community members about our needs, the needs of our
students, and the needs of our institution. We began to articulate the long-term
negative consequences of low pay and low morale on us--and on the future of
MVCC. Many in our state and local communities could now hear our message.
It was a good start, but there was still more to be done. Out of each new idea
another grew. Finding time to implement these ideas was one problem, but another
one was finding resources. Some require only energy, but others require cash.
Through our affiliation with NYSUT, we became aware of funding that would support
Local Action Projects--grants that enable local unions to jumpstart member involvement
and strengthen the union's ties with the larger community. Seeing this as a
way to further the Association's goals, PA leaders met again in marathon sessions
to formulate a grant proposal and budget with a three-year timeline. In the
first year alone, this grant has yielded more than $10,000 in NYSUT funding.
What's envisioned? A better, more effective union, one that benefits fully
from the strengths and talents of its members. Of course, obtaining improved
contracts, compensation pack-ages, and working conditions are a primary focus
of any union. Achieving the greatest good for the membership as a whole, now
and in the years to come, has to be our goal. Accomplishing that comes first
of all from tough, smart, skillful negotiations.
But negotiations don't happen in a vacuum. Before the team goes to the table
and while it is there, every member plays a part. Solidarity. Information. Outreach.
Coalitions. Political Action. We have work to do.
How can you contribute? How can you ensure that your voice helps to shape the
There's a ballot in your mailbox. Choose a line and sign your name.
Searles provides testimony on 2003-04 Executive budget proposal
Editor's Note: The following is the testimony given by Ellis at the
Assembly Ways and Means Committee meeting in Utica on March 13. In response
to President Searles' testimony, Assembly Member RoAnn Destito wrote the following
in a letter of appreciation: "Thank you very much for participating....
I will do my best to enact a state budget which is fair, balanced, and in
the best interests of all New Yorkers, especially for the working families
of the Mohawk Valley."
I'm Ellis Gage Searles, President of the Mohawk Valley Community College Professional
Association, which is made up of the more than 200 faculty and professional
staff at MVCC and is affiliated on the state level with our 480,000 colleagues
in New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and nationally with more than one
million in the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Throughout our region and through much of New York State, MVCC has developed
a well-deserved reputation for the high quality of its programs and services,
and I'm proud to say that I represent the dedicated professionals who have made
that happen. It is on their behalf and on behalf of the institution we all care
so deeply about that I address you now.
What I have to say will come as no surprise: that is, the 2003-2004 budget
proposed by Governor Pataki would be nothing short of devastating to all of
higher education in New York State, including the SUNY community colleges.
Supportive as you have been of education and knowledgeable as you are about
the costs intrinsic to providing quality programs in New York State's schools
and colleges, of course you realize this already. But, as legislators, you are
also facing fiscal problems perhaps unprecedented in our lifetime. Many worthy
programs and services are vying for funding in a year when the deficit is enormous.
But education is the only long-term solution to our state's economic problems.
It prepares our region's future workforce and nurtures the thinkers and policymakers
of tomorrow. It is a wise--indeed, vital--investment, one fully supported by
the people of New York State, the very families who depend on its public colleges
for them-selves and their children. It is noteworthy that community colleges
are among their top choices; more students begin their higher education at community
colleges than anywhere else. So, a disproportionately high number of students
and families would be hard hit should this budget go through.
Hard hit, to put it mildly.
Cuts to community colleges of 15%--which includes a reduction of $345 in base
aid per student--are among the very deepest in this budget proposal. This follows
several years of minimal or no increases that have already forced community
colleges to cut back again and again, leaving little that is not essential.
Open faculty lines have been going unfilled; needed new ones are not being created.
Under the Governor's proposed budget, first, entire programs would be in jeopardy,
the loss of which would pose a real threat to our mission as a comprehensive
community college. Second, enrollments might need to be capped even as more
students seek admission, a development that would fly in the face of our commitment
to open access. Third, graduation time-tables may be disrupted as courses become
unavailable, putting more pressure on student financial aid and, naturally,
on students themselves, who would grow impatient for the day when they can put
their completed degrees to work. At the same time that our students would be
paying more, they would be getting less.
And the pressure would extend well beyond individuals to the counties that
provide local sponsorship for community colleges, as Oneida County does for
MVCC. Like New York State, Oneida County faces huge shortfalls and, like the
community colleges, it does so against a backdrop of years of low revenue and
high costs. Cuts at the state level pass the burden not only to students but
to the local governments and finally to the taxpayers in each city, town, and
village. Rather than making cuts, the state should resolve to work over the
long term toward full funding--the 40% called for in the formula established
for community colleges. This would lighten the burden on overtaxed counties
as well as on students struggling to pay their tuition bills. And it would make
good economic sense.
As you well know, our region is poorly positioned to withstand any more economic
distress. But it has unlimited potential. What Central New York needs is the
fully developed gifts of our young people. Moreover, it needs an up-to-date
workforce. It needs the energy generated by MVCC graduates of all ages and the
economic activity that results from a strong institution of higher education.
It needs our nurses, our respiratory therapists, our accountants, and our technicians.
The arts, the businesses, and the social agencies of our area need talented,
well-prepared professionals. And we are here to ready them.
MVCC provides education to the citizens of Oneida County; at the same time,
along with its students, faculty, and staff, it contributes to the local community
in a variety of ways. Money spent to support our community colleges multiplies.
Accessible, low-cost, high-quality education adds untold value. Fully supporting
it--even in these tough economic times--is a crucial investment in our common
So I urge you to do whatever you can to restore funding for our community college.
If we are to continue to fulfill our mission, not only must the cuts be restored,
but additional funding must be found to ensure that continually spiraling costs
do not result in more reductions to an already bare bones budget.
Students are arriving on our campus in increasing numbers, full of hope and
with high expectations. We have much to offer them. But we'll need re-sources.
So, on behalf of the faculty and professional staff of the MVCC PA, I ask you
to help us by working with your colleagues in Albany to provide the funding
we need to educate the students who will ensure the economic future of our region
and our state.
students involved to help save "A State at Risk"
A website has been set up so students can fax their legislators to express concern
about the state budget's impact on public higher education in New York State--with
a section specifically for community college students.
NYSEducationAction.org is a
simple, free way for students to send a fax to state lawmakers in Albany to
tell them just how important it is to support funding for public education.
Teach your students that public schools are threatened by massive budget cuts
for school year 2003-2004. NYSUT has published a report titled "Don't Fail
Us Now. New York: A State at Risk," which explains how the Governor's proposed
budget--slashing $1.24 billion from public schools, and hundreds of millions
of dollars more from higher education--would have a devastating impact on campuses
and school programs.
Then show students how to take action. At NYSEducation Action.org, they can
click the "Community College" link and enter their zip code to locate
their legislators. Next, by entering their name and address, a quick click of
the "fax" button sends a letter to all legislators selected. Have
students review the letter, and get them involved today!
PA springs into activity
General Membership Meeting
Thurs. April 24
4:00 p.m. in IT225
- budget approval
- video premiere of our award-winning Educators Meet Legislators project
- finalizing of election nominations ballot
- distribution of contracts
- update on benefit fund
- refreshments served
saving members money...
Defensive Driving Course
Wed. April 30 and Thurs. May 1
3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in IT225
- reduce cost of insurance by 10% or by 4 points from a driving record
- send $25.00 check payable to NYSUT Benefit Trust to Jim Smrtic in PH352
- open to first 40 members who register, then to family if seats are available
- refreshments served
answering members' questions...
3 PA Workshops at this year's Summer Institute (dates & times
- How Contract Savvy Are You? Test
your knowledge of your contract. What are your rights and responsibilities?
What's new in the 2002-2005 collective bargaining agreement, including provisions
for travel, retirement, tuition waivers, evaluation, and more? Ask questions
and get answers from Sam Drogo (Negotiations Chair) and Dennis Rahn (Grievance
- New PA Benefits are Coming! Find
out about your new benefit fund. What is it? What will it offer you? A panel
discussion of PA Benefit Fund Trustees led by Paul Halko (Benefit Fund Chair
) and Laura Calhoun (NYSUT Member Benefits Representative).
- Classroom and Campus Safety What
things should we be aware of when it comes to keeping safe in our classrooms
and offices, labs and athletic fields--in fact, everywhere on campus? The
PA has invited members of the College community to participate in this panel
discussion, including Dr. Daniel Larson (VP Instruction), Denise DiGiorgio
(VP Student Services), Joe Palmer (Director, Campus Safety and Security),
Steve Rosati (Coordinator, Administrative Services/Rome Campus), and Carolyn
D'Argenio (Asst. Professor, Social Science/Criminal Justice). Moderated
by Dennis Rahn.
from the National
The AFT has a new "News from the National" electronic newsletter
to help members stay in touch with AFT Higher Education activities, get news
about other AFT state federations and higher education locals, and get information
about upcoming events. To subscribe, go to http://www.aft.org/higher_ed/subscribe.html.
PA audit complete
Audit Committee members Julie Dewan, Gideon Donato, Gary Kulis, and John Snyder
have completed an audit of the PA accounts for the years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001
and have presented their report to the PA Executive Board. Thanks to everyone
on the committee for their work on this important process.
The PA's fiscal year ends on April 30. Once the books have been closed on the
current fiscal year, an audit of the last two years can begin, perhaps by late
May or early June. Members wishing more information about past audits may contact
PA Treasurer Mike Donaruma.
1 is deadline for reduced load
Teaching faculty members may elect a reduced load for 2003-04 by notifying
their department chair by May 1 of this year. The election to do so is for 3
credit hours or 3 contact hours per term and can be for one or both terms. The
economic impact of this can be found in Article 5.6.A.3 (the new contract is
on the web at www.mvccpa.org).
Also on the PA Website: Complete results of the LAP-sponsored PA Member Survey
are on the PA website www.mvccpa.org) as
a Microsoft Excel file.
garners statewide recognition
- The PA's Local Action Project grant was profiled in the March 26th New
York Teacherin an article titled "Faculty union steps up community
- The PA's First Gentleman George Searles recently was chosen to share the
honor of being the first-ever Higher Education Person of the Year, a new award
from NYSUT. He was honored on stage and in a video montage at the Representative
Assembly in Washington, D.C. "It's refreshing to be in a room of people
who know the score," George told delegates, lauding "all the good
work you do every day." George will be featured in the April 23rd edition
of the New York Teacher, which highlights that he's proud to be teaching
at a community college--an institution, he says, that is an important and
beneficial social construct, particularly since it has open admission. "There's
no suggestion it's a closed club," Searles said. "It's affordable,
it's local and it's democratic. Higher ed is not available to a lot of people
- PAnorama has done it again! This year, the PA newsletter received
five awards in the NYSUT Journalism Competition. This year's awards are as
- First Award, Best Feature Story: Cynthia Villanti
- First Award, New Members' Issues: Cynthia Villanti
- Award of Merit, Best News Story: Luther Riedel
- Award of Merit, Best Article on Health Issues: Jim Fiore
- Honorable Mention, Best Column: Luther Riedel
PA solidarity efforts...
Workers Memorial Day, April 28...
source: The NYSUT Leader
Decades of struggle by workers and their unions have resulted in significant
improvements in working conditions. But the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses
and deaths remains enormous. Each year, more than 60,000 workers die from
job injuries and illnesses and another 6 million are injured. The unions of
the AFL-CIO remember these workers on April 28, Workers Memorial Day.
The first Workers Memorial Day was observed in 1989. April 28 was chosen
because it is the anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
and the day of a similar remembrance in Canada. Every year, people in hundreds
of communities and at work-sites recognize workers who have been killed or
injured on the job. Trade unionists around the world now mark April 28 as
an International Day of Mourning.
This year's theme is Safe Jobs, Keep on Fighting. Mourn for the Dead. Fight
for the Living. You can get materials and information to help you participate
in Workers Memorial Day through the Web site at http://www.aflcio.org/yourjob-economy/safety/memorial.
Members Feature ~ Dan's back, and Norma's ready
to teach you some new technology tricks
Dan Ianno: Admissions
Dan's back, and he's quite happy about it.
Dan Ianno worked at MVCC from 1998 to 2001. After learning of a recent opening
in the Admissions Office, he was happy to return to the world of education and
In many ways, Dan never left. He continued to serve as Assistant Coach of the
MV Hawks soccer team and kept close ties with his family and friends here. Having
grown up in New Hartford, Dan always has thought of this as home.
Dan beams when he talks about the soccer team, which has experienced success
in recent years, with 4 years of being nationally ranked, 3 years making the
regional finals, and a 12-2-2 record for the 2002 season. He especially loves
to work with students. When he sees his players at practice, he asks, "How's
school going?" and stresses the importance of education. "That's what
will make your career," he advises.
Dan rejoined the PA upon his return because--ever a team player--he enjoys
the collegial support and is proud of the PA involvement in many community outreach
Norma Chrisman: Faculty/Staff Resource Center
When Norma Chrisman talks to you about technology, you may not guess that she
bakes the tastiest cheesecakes and grows the best rosebushes. But she does.
The multi-talented Norma has been making a name for herself in the Faculty
Staff Resource Center as the techno-savvy source of your training and technical
support needs relating to software, database management, desktop publishing,
and more. She also provides support for all of the MV Online courses.
Having spent 17 years at Herkimer County Trust, Norma was ready to meet the
challenge of working in a college setting. The biggest difference, she reports,
is the far more collegial atmosphere.
Norma lives in Little Falls with her husband, Keith, and four children. Since
Keith is President of his union at Beech Nut in Canajoharie, Norma had no questions
about joining the PA. She believes in collective representation by a union and
already has contributed by designing the PA website membership database. We
look forward making use of that... and to taste-testing that cheesecake!