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  Main >  Member Communications > PAnorama > February 2003

PAnorama: February 2003



Survey results: PA members active, involved, satisfied with their union

The first-ever survey of the MVCC PA is providing an interesting snapshot of the membership. Responses so far, representing about one-third of the surveys distributed, have come from nearly every department on campus, from members with more than thirty years in the union and from those who joined in 2002. Even a quick review of the data confirms that the Association is made up of professionals who lead active lives both on campus and off, who are deeply involved in their communities, and who are in-terested in participating in a variety of PA committees, events, and initiatives. And they are pleased with their union.

The PA Member Survey was distributed in paper form to all members during the Fall 2002 semester, with an electronic version available on the PA website at www.mvccpa.org. Data outlined here were gathered from the responses submitted before the end of the semester. Surveys continue to come in, however, so updates will be forthcoming.

Who makes up this sample? With 71 respondents (25 non-teaching professionals and 46 teaching faculty from 26 departments), these results offer a balanced representation of the overall PA membership:

  • 45% (all percentages rounded) have been at MVCC for 5 years or less, 34% for 21 years or more, 20% from 6 to 20 years;
  • 41 are male, 30 female;
  • 13% have PhD’s, 62% have Master’s degrees, while 25% have Bachelor’s or Associate’s degrees.

The majority report involvement in professional organizations, with 43 indicating membership in at least one and 24 reporting two or more. On the list were more than 60 different organizations, including the American Library Association, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, the Justice Studies Association, and the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, to name just a few.

PA members’ other commitments extend beyond their professions to a broad array of community organizations and activities. Questioned about their participation in human services, health-related, educational, environmental, regional and economic development, political and human rights, arts and historical organizations as well as religious groups, service clubs, youth and athletic groups, animal care organizations, military and veterans’ groups, fire, rescue, and medical associations, and an assortment of hobbies and special interests, members displayed a high level of involvement.

Of the 71 respondents, 70 belong to at least one community organization or activity, with 46 active in at least five. In all, these PA members hold 79 officer or leadership positions in the more than 300 organizations and activities in which they are involved.

Member contributions on campus are equally impressive:

  • 56% of survey respondents currently serve on at least one college-wide or senate committee,
  • 49% are on departmental committees, and
  • 30% are advisors to student clubs or organizations.

The PA benefits from the dedication and energy of many as well, either in committee work or PA community outreach activities; 26 respondents are currently members of at least one PA committee, and 18 more said they would like to be. PA community outreach has attracted much attention too, with 82% saying they either have already been or would like to be involved in at least one of these PA initiatives.

A variety of ideas for future PA-sponsored events also emerged from the survey. Social events, trips, and athletic activities topped the list, along with suggestions for convenient times and dates.

In their responses to questions about the PA’s work on their behalf, members were nearly unanimous in their positivity. Members expressed satisfaction with PA communication efforts. PAnorama got high marks, as did the PA website. Bulletin boards and e-mail updates are seen as well done. PA reps are described as doing a fine job. Comments on General Membership meetings were mixed: the meetings themselves are seen as informative; the attendance, disappointing.

Anonymous portions of the survey contained questions especially for new members along with general questions regarding union representation, grievances, and negotiations. Additional open-ended questions yielded general feedback.

Twenty-five responded to the new member questions: 23 of those said the PA had welcomed them to the college and that they had received adequate information in the New Member Packet, 64% said a PA member had helped him or her make the transition to MVCC, and 84% expressed interest in participating in focus groups and PA-sponsored workshops.

Regarding union representation of the membership, 98% of respondents said the PA is successful in its efforts. A full 100% said their union questions are answered. Of the 20 who had brought a complaint to the attention of the union, 18 said they had been informed whether it had a contractual basis. Of those who reported having been involved in a grievance, all who responded to whether they felt that they had been well represented in the process said, "Yes."

When asked about their satisfaction with the negotiations process "from beginning to end," 95% said they were satisfied. Nine members offered comments or suggestions, most of them supportive and positive.

In response to the question, "What would make you more likely to be active in the PA?", most answered, "more time."

Survey results have been entered into a computer database to make them more accessible and will provide valuable information to the PA as it works to increase the active participation of the membership and as it charts the course for the future.

Those who responded to the survey will soon be sporting their new blue PA polo shirts. Members who have not yet completed their surveys may still do so, on paper or at www.mvccpa.org. Additional shirts will be ordered as surveys are received. Full survey results will be available on the PA website soon.


Sherry Day wins holiday fundraiser 50/50 raffle

Sherry Day of the MVCC Library on the Utica campus, won the 50/50 raffle held as part of our December 2002 holiday charity fundraiser. A total of $800.00 was raised. In addition to a food drive and a drive to raise goods for local animal shelters, this was the main part of our fundraising efforts, with the proceeds going to the striking workers at Divine Brothers (see photo on page 8 and related story on page 12). We were even more pleased that Sherry was our raffle winner, when she confirmed that her uncle had retired from Divine Brothers after a long career, and that it was this uncle who encouraged her to participate in the 50/50 raffle. Congratulations, Sherry!


Adell Richards expresses gratitude

Adele Richards, wife of PA retiree Milt Richards, who recently passed away, responded to expressions of sympathy sent by PA members. Addressing "Dear friends," she said, in part, "Your collective sympathies and tender memories of my beloved Milt are very much appreciated. His friends at MVCC have given me strength. Everyone is so caring. Thank you."


A former PA leader writes
by Ellis Gage Searles

If you were a member twenty years ago or more, you will surely remember Dr. David Ahola. He was a PA leader during the years he was here at MVCC, but left the college to pursue opportunities elsewhere and has now been teaching for some time at McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois. But even if you don’t remember him, you will appreciate what he has written.

In December, Professor Ahola sent a "fan" letter, as he called it, addressed to me and to "Old Friends and New PA members." He has been reading PAnorama and sends his greetings and his congratulations on both the quality of our newsletter and "the increased political/civic involvement of the MVCC/PA." His letter concludes,

"I commend all those responsible for making this ‘old’ PA member proud of his former professional organization. Keep up the good work!"

I found his words of encouragement very gratifying, and I wanted to pass them along to you, who are "those responsible."


Step up and get involved in PA Community Outreach events

America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk
Saturday, February 22
10:00 a.m.
Utica College

Join the PA team for the Heart Run & Walk! Registration forms are in this PAnorama. Select an event (the main PA team will do the 5-mile walk) and fill in the following information:

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

You can pre-register at a listed location or register on the day of the event. We’ll meet in the gym for a team photo around 9 or 9:30.

Thea Bowman House Bowl-A-Thon
Sunday, March 2
1:00 p.m.
AMF Pin-O-Rama (1724 Genesee Street)

Join the PA team for the Thea Bowman House Bowl-a-Thon! The Thea Bowman House provides after-school care for the children of Utica-area families in need. Register by emailing event organizer and kegler extraordinaire Bill Hysell at whysell@mvcc.edu.


VOTE-COPE: Just $1.00 per pay keeps things going our way
by Bill Perrotti, VOTE-COPE Coordinator

The PA’s VOTE-COPE campaign has already begun, and thus far our record is unblemished.

This year, we decided to begin the campaign with the leadership of the organization, that is, the Executive Board of the PA, plus the PAnorama editor and the web manager. Our thinking is that the leadership of the PA should not ask the membership-at-large to contribute to something that they do not fully support in a tangible way.

Well, I am happy to announce that the members of the PA Executive Board are 100% behind this drive to make and keep NYSUT and the PA effectively engaged in the political process, locally and at the state level. Without exception, we are contributing to VOTE-COPE.

Just so you can put faces on the lead contributors in this year’s effort, the list includes Marie Czarnecki, Mike Donaruma, Sam Drogo, Arthur Friedberg, Colleen Kehoe-Robinson, Gene Militello, Debbie Otis, Bill Perrotti, Dennis Rahn, Luther Riedel, Ellis Searles, Mike Sewall, Jim Smrtic, and Cynthia Villanti.

We are newcomers, old timers, teaching faculty, non-teaching professionals, techies, scientists, math phobics, writers, psychologists, actors, runners, plodders, Republicans, Democrats, Independents... truly a very motley crew with a common goal: to create the best union local in the community college system and to better serve all our members.

Now all we need is you. Just $1 a pay keeps things going our way.

Whaddya say? Put your hand into your pocket or purse and share just a tiny bit of what our successful last bargaining efforts gained for us all. This is money that will be very well spent!

VOTE-COPE is NYSUT’s Committee on Political Education. These donations from members fund NYSUT’s very effective lobbying efforts in Albany where they represent the interests of public education and public educators and unionists every day. They are our voice there and they do a job that is vital to our interests very well. Even a quick read of Ellis’ "From the Prez" comments about the state budget picture should give us all pause and focus us on the need to support our political efforts at all levels.

Also, remember that 40% of the money donated to VOTE-COPE comes back to the PA in the form of two 20% rebates. That money then can underwrite our local outreach efforts aimed at creating a visible and positive public identity for the PA, maintaining an active and open dialogue with county and state elected representatives and private and public sector labor leaders, supporting worthwhile social and charitable initiatives, and engaging our membership more actively in an expanding PA role.

We need your help to do this. $1 per pay is $26 each year that can support an effort that is vital to our success. If you already donate, please consider upping your contribution $1 each payday. It’s not very much money to invest in our future. In the next month, someone will be approaching you with a pledge card. Please welcome them, consider their request carefully, and decide to support VOTE-COPE.

Remember: Just $1 a pay keeps things going our way!


From the President's Desk
by Ellis Gage Searles

It came as no surprise that the 2003-2004 Executive Budget proposed cuts. During the weeks prior to the budget’s release by the Governor’s office, the media had been reporting an unprecedented fiscal crisis in New York State. Deficits are predicted to be large.

What made it so alarming was the size and scope of the proposed cuts to education. Under this plan, no university, school, or college would be spared. Students in both public and private colleges would pay more to attend institutions less able to provide the programs and services they need.

On February 6th, I attended a NYSUT Higher Education Council meeting at which the details of this budget proposal were discussed: public schools would face cuts of 8.5%; state funding for SUNY would be reduced 15%, for CUNY, 12%; and community colleges would be cut $345 per FTE, or 15%. Along with these outright reductions, a number of other proposed changes would impact our institutions and our students dramatically: "restructuring" TAP, eliminating restrictions on tuition, and shifting the tax burden for education to local taxpayers, thus affecting town and county budgets that are already severely strained.

Should these drastic cuts be enacted by the state, should our county’s resources be further thinned, should our students face yet another tuition hike, it’s not difficult to envision the negative effects on our institution and on our professional lives.

The Legislature now begins the negotiations that will lead to a final budget agreement. So we, too, must begin our work. Individually, as members of the PA, as part of NYSUT, and in coalition with others willing to speak up for education, we will need to make our voices heard.

These are tough fiscal times--perhaps like never before in the history of our state--but we cannot allow a disproportionate burden to fall on the institutions that will ensure a better future for our communities.

The PA will be active at the state level during the coming months, joining together with hundreds of colleagues from community colleges across the state and tens of thousands more from United University Professions (UUP) and Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the unions that represent SUNY and CUNY faculty and professional staff. And NYSUT will assist us throughout.

Higher Ed Lobby Day will be held in Albany on February 25th. We’ll be there. On March 11th, the Committee of 100, made up of educators from every NYSUT local in the state, will convene in the Legislative Office Building before calling on Republican and Democratic lawmakers from every district. We’ll be part of that as well.

And a huge rally is being planned for May 3rd, a Saturday, in Albany, uniting educators and administrators at every level, including the School Boards Association, the Principals Union, the statewide Educational Conference Board, and thousands of students and families from around the state. We’ll be among them.

But in the meantime, PA colleagues, take whatever action you can. Go to www.nysut.org. Send an e-mail. Make a phone call. Write a letter. It does make a difference.


NYSUT Member Benefits now endorses Consumer Credit Counseling

NYSUT Benefit Trust recently endorsed the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central New York to provide profess-ional, confidential credit counseling services to members and agency fee payers. While there is nothing unique CCCS/CNY will do for NYSUT members as opposed to the general public, NYSUT now can confidently refer members to this type of assistance.

CCCS/CNY is a non-profit service organization that has provided free confidential counseling to thousands of people since 1972. CCCS/CNY is supported through voluntary donations from the credit and business community, grants, contracts, and sliding scale administration fees paid by clients specifically enrolled in the licensed debt repayment program.

They offer toll-free advice seven days a week, 24 hours a day. If in-depth counseling is needed, arrangements will be made for an appointment with a counselor located in the member’s area. They also offer a debt repayment plan, which allows consumers to repay creditors over time, without additional loans or personal bankruptcy. To learn more on the NYSUT Member Benefits website, go to this address: http://memberbenefits.nysut.org.


NYS AFL-CIO offers $8,000.00 scholarship

If you know of a high school student who meets the following criteria, tell him or her to apply for the 2003 New York State AFL-CIO Scholarship:

  • will graduate in 2003,
  • has a parent or guardian who is a member of a union affiliated with the New York State AFL-CIO (this includes the PA!), and
  • is accepted in a course of study in labor relations or a labor-related interest such as history, economics, law, political science, sociology, or journalism at an accredited institution of higher ed in New York State.

The New York State AFL-CIO will award this four-year scholarship to a 2003 graduating high school senior who intends to pursue a career in labor relations or a related field. The scholarship will be for $2,000. a year for four consecutive years for a total of $8,000.

Scholarship details and a down-loadable application form can be found online at this address:
http://www.nysaflcio.org/scholarship_2003.htm.


Benefit Fund update

An Agreement of Trust has been finalized by the MVCC Professional Association and the MVCC PA Benefits Trust Fund. With the help of a law firm provided by NYSUT, the document was drawn up, reviewed, and signed by the Trust Fund trustees, Chair Paul Halko, Julie Dewan, Sam Drogo, Ron Miller, and PA President Ellis Gage Searles. Fund Secretary Marie Czarnecki and Fund Treasurer Mike Donaruma also assisted with the development of the document.

The first payment from the College, in the amount of $27, 848.34, was made on January 29, 2003. All trustees will be signatories on the Trust Fund bank account. At their next meeting, scheduled for February 27th, the trustees will begin work on the policies and procedures that will govern the operation of the trust. The first benefits should be made available to members by September 1st.

Regular updates on the MVCC PA Benefits Trust Fund will be made to the PA Executive Board by Paul Halko, Chair of the Benefits Fund trustees, who will attend monthly PA Executive Board meetings.


Solidarity update

A note of appreciation was recently received by the PA from Paul Krukar, President of UNITE! Local 653-T, which represents workers at the local Divine Brothers facility here in Utica. Last May, members of the PA showed their support for the striking workers at Divine Brothers by walking with them on the picket line. In December, we held a 50/50 raffle fundraiser, the proceeds of which were donated to the families of the striking workers.This note of appreciation was recently received by the PA from Paul Krukar, President of UNITE! Local 653-T, which represents workers at the local Divine Brothers facility here in Utica. Last May, members of the PA showed their support for the striking workers at Divine Brothers by walking with them on the picket line. In December, we held a 50/50 raffle fundraiser, the proceeds of which were donated to the families of the striking workers.


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