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  Main >  Member Communications > PAnorama > May 2003

PAnorama: May 2003

PA to honor graduates

As part of the commencement ceremony this year, MVCC graduates will receive keyrings from the Professional Association.

PA President Ellis Gage Searles will be on stage to congratulate each graduate and present this keepsake on behalf of the membership. With the help of funding from a NYSUT LAP grant, the PA is beginning what is intended to be an annual event.

Coin-style, bronze tone metal keyrings have been designed to show the PA logo and motto on one side and the words "MVCC Graduate" encircled by "The Faculty and Professional Staff Congratulate You" on the other. The commencement program will contain a letter of congratulations from the PA Executive Board.

New vision benefit selected

The MVCC PA Benefits Fund will provide a new vision plan beginning this summer.

Under the plan, bargaining unit members and their families will be eligible for free annual comprehensive eye care services--eye exams, frames, and lenses--through participating providers. Davis Vision, a NYSUT-endorsed company, was selected by the Benefits Fund trustees at a meeting on May 6th.

Members and their families will be covered under Davis Vision's "Premier Platinum" plan. It includes the following:

  • a wide variety of frames
  • choice of glass or plastic lenses
  • all ranges of prescriptions including single vision, bifocal, trifocal, or lenticular
  • prescription sunglasses
  • standard progressive lenses
  • various coatings
  • one-year breakage warranty
  • fittings for contacts
  • up to four multi-packs of plan contact lenses per year.

A number of local optometrists participate in the plan, including all Empire Vision locations.

Required enrollment by members for themselves and their families will be done electronically through a link on the PA website that is now under construction. An announcement will be made by email when the link has become operational.

A Summer Institute workshop has been scheduled for the morning of May 22nd. Enrollment may be done at the session. Also, representatives of NYSUT Member Benefits and Davis Vision will be there to answer questions and provide brochures. A collection of sample frames will be available to try on.

The MVCC PA Benefits Fund was negotiated as part of our new contract. Trustees of the Fund are Julie Dewan, Sam Drogo, Paul Halko, Ron Miller, and Ellis Gage Searles. Paul Halko serves as Chair. Marie Czarnecki is the Fund Secretary and Mike Donaruma, the Fund Treasurer.

NYSUT Education and Learning Trust seeks instructors

If you are interested in teaching undergraduate or graduate courses in NYSUT's Effective Teaching Program, please let Ellis know. Applicants are being sought for positions in the Utica area. To apply, you must be a union member, have a NYS teaching certificate, a masters degree, and at least five years teaching experience.

The Effective Teaching Program offers professional development opportunities through research-based interactive graduate courses and dynamic workshops and in-service programs designed for K-12 educators. Also, the Paraprofessional Program offers undergraduate courses for paraprofessionals in meeting the new state and federal requirements.

PA members among those recognized for service to students with disabilities
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 2003 honorees who are members 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.

  • Sarah Coleman "has been the most helpful of all the other instructors."
  • Duane Isenberg and Andrew Keiser "If I did not understand a question, they explained it so I could understand."
  • Colleen Kehoe-Robinson "Asking for help is very hard for me, and she made it easy for me to do this."
  • Ron Labuz "because he is not only a remarkable teacher [but also] a great human being."
  • Jonathan Meeter "has taken the extra measure to help me understand the information given out in class."
  • Kevin Mokry "will do everything he can to help you become your best."
  • Mario Restive "gave me a way to complete write-up papers as I was unable to utilize the computer labs."
  • Donna Sawyer "[is] outstanding; when you have the kind of disability I have, this is the kind of person you need."
  • Ann Smallen "taught me the value to work hard to accomplish your goals."
  • Gina Testa-Appel "helped me to attain a lot of the material in her classes by taking that extra step."
  • Steve Woolf "in a moment of anguish, luck brought me in contact with Mr. Woolf."

From the President's Desk
by Ellis Gage Searles

Two years. Having just completed my first full term as PA president, I guess I'm no longer new at it.

It's certainly true that over these past twenty-four months, I've learned a great deal. I have expanded my vocabulary ("Stipulation," "Landrum-Griffin," "HECAS"), improved my reading skills (contract language says what it says), gotten a better grasp of the political process (budgets, endorsements, member items), and grown daily in my awareness of all things "union."

This learning has been just what I expected it to be when I first took office-a very welcome opportunity to find out more about something I care deeply about. What's more, since it's the very nature of the work that using new knowledge happens almost simultaneously with gaining it, additional learning opportunities are created exponentially.

So it's not too much to say that I've had a busy couple of years.

All of this I anticipated.

What I could not possibly have anticipated is the extraordinary kindness of the people I would come to appreciate from a new perspective, colleagues and friends who would offer unstinting support and tireless assistance to me personally and, at the same time, to the organization as a whole.

Experiencing this has been the very best part of being PA president. It's given me a chance to spend time among some of the most wonderful individuals, to learn from their experience, and to see them give of themselves constantly, cheerfully, and creatively.

What I know now is mainly this: our union has the great good fortune to have within it remarkable men and women who contribute every day, who help, who support each other, and who do it all without looking for any thanks.

Today, as I begin another term, I want to say it anyway. To my brothers and sisters in the membership--and especially in the leadership--whose expertise, generosity, and good will I've learned from and come to depend on, thank you.

Academic-year members, take note!

Academic-year members of the bargaining unit are reminded that Article 9.6 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement provides for compensation for any work done after the end of obligation, which is June 2nd this year. If you perform committee or other work requested by the College after June 2nd, you should submit a request for payment to Human Resources indicating the number of hours you have worked.

Human Resources requires that you include a log of dates, specific hours (e.g., "10:30 to 12:00," not "1 and a half hours"), and a description of activities. Members who are part of a search committee should direct questions about reimbursement for meals or other expenses to Human Resources beforehand.

Please send a copy of your request for compensation to Ellis.

  • Those who submit hours for payment should include a log of dates, specific hours ("10:30 to 12:00," not "1 and a half hours"), and a description of activities.
  • You should submit this info directly to HR, with a copy to Ellis.
  • Search committees who plan to take candidates out for meals should talk to HR about how to do so.
  • Questions about procedures should be directed to HR.

PA-sponsored Summer Institute workshops

Your Union Works: How Contract Savvy Are You?
Thursday, May 22
9 to 10 a.m.

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 Chair).

Your Union Works: New PA Benefits are Coming!
Thursday, May 22
10 to 11 a.m.

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 & Campus Safety
11 to 12 noon

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.

PA makes presence known at March for Public Education

On a bright, sunny Saturday, several cars carried PA members to the Empire State Plaza in Albany, where they made clear their support of public education in New York.

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers flooded the plaza between the State Capitol Building and the NYS Cultural Education Center, some having spent an entire morning traveling by car, bus, and train to reach the plaza by noon.

As the May 9th "NYSUT Leader" notes, the rally was "unprecedented in collaboration and cooperation of disparate groups that share a common concern for public ed: unions, administrators, school boards, parents and students." Gathered together in support of public education from pre-K through post-grad, the crowd loudly voiced their support for the Senate and Assembly, which restored over $1 billion in state aid to public education.

Knowing Pataki is likely to veto the budget bills and that a legislative override would be necessary for the restorations to become law, the crowd directed to Pataki repeated chants of "Sign the bill!" and to the Legislature repeated chants of "Override!"

Over $400 million of the pro-posed Legislative restorations go to higher education. With regard to aid specifically for community colleges, while the Executive Budget proposed a reduction of $345 per student, the Legislative Budget restored all of it, equaling over $74 million.

Get involved for good health: Research confirms that collective action contributes to personal and social health
source: "Bulletin," the University of Sussex University Newsletter

Editor's Note: The full text of this report comes from the 13 Dec. 2002 edition of the University of Sussex newsletter "Bulletin," available online at

Research led by Dr John Drury, Lecturer in Social Psychology in SOC [the School of Social Sciences], has found that not only does participation in protests and demonstrations have the potential to change the world: it is actually good for you.

This was one of the findings of a large-scale interview study of protest crowds and social movements, often known as "collective action."

"Many published activist accounts refer to feelings of encouragement and confidence emerging from experiences of collective action," says John. "But it is not always clear how and why such empowerment occurs, so we aimed to explain what factors within a collective action event contribute most to such feelings."

The study involved in-depth interviews with nearly 40 activists from a variety of backgrounds, in which over 160 collective action experiences were described. The range of events described by interviewees included traditional marches, fox-hunt sabotages, anti-capitalist street parties, environmental direct actions, industrial mass pickets--and even student occupations.

"The main factors we found to contribute to a sense of empowerment were the realization of the collective identity: the sense of movement, potential, unity and mutual support within a crowd," says John.

"However, what was also interesting was the centrality of emotion in the accounts. Empowering events were almost without exception described as joyous occasions. Participants experienced a deep sense of happiness and even euphoria in being involved in protest events. Simply recounting the events in the interview itself brought a smile to the faces of the interviewees."

Psychologists have become increasingly interested in the role of positive experiences and emotions not just in making people feel good but also in promoting psychological and physical health. Uplifting experiences have been found to be associated with a variety of indicators of well-being, such as speed of physiological recovery; ability to cope with physical stressors; and the reduction of pain, anxiety and depression.

The Sussex study also involved Dr Chris Cocking and three Social Psychology students: Joseph Beale, Charlotte Hanson and Faye Rapley.

Doing good and the meaning of symbiosis
by Cynthia Villanti

"Do-gooders." "Goody two shoes." The first time I heard the term "goody two shoes," the class bully in grade school used it as justification for beating up another boy. I recall wondering why someone deemed a "do gooder" deserved to get picked on.

Fortunately, we're no longer in grade school and we better understand the value of doing good. In thinking about the philosophy behind the PA's increased community activism, I can see that it stems from our understanding of the genuinely symbiotic relationship between our organization and our community. The word "symbiosis" comes from the Greek: sym meaning together and bios meaning life. Life together. Symbiosis happens when two entities mutually benefit from--indeed, sustain life from--one another.

Here's an illustration of this symbiotic relationship between the PA and our community. We selected Hospice Care as the beneficiary of our Spring Social 50/50 Raffle. To learn more about the agency, I spoke with Lorie Phillips, Respiratory Care Coordinator. She talked about their function as a health-care program for the terminally ill and their families, indicating that services include home health aides, spiritual counseling, and bereavement support-all with an emphasis on pain management. Lorie went on to discuss how Hospice had been a great help when one of her relatives was struggling with cancer.

Knowing that Jackie Womack volunteers for Hospice every year, I stopped by her office next. Like Lorie, Jackie gets the idea of symbiosis. After Hospice provided bereavement counseling and other support when she lost her son to a birth defect in 1987 and again when her brother passed away in 1992, Jackie determined to give back to Hospice--and she has done just that, year after year.

Lorie and Jackie are two "do-gooders" who really get the meaning of symbiosis. I know that many others in the PA do as well because we raised over $800 for our Spring Social. Send your ideas for future fundraisers to a member of the Community Outreach Committee.

PA election results in continued expertise, energy

Rather than duplicate the tables here, we ask that you please view results of this year's election in the Executive Board and Committee Chairs & Members pages. Most of the just-elected terms end on 5.31.05. Per PA by-laws, several committees have until June 5th to elect their chairs.

Light the way to a cure

The Rome Teachers Association is inviting people to participate in its annual event to help fight cancer by purchasing candles in honor of or in memory of a loved one. In support of the American Cancer Society, this year the New York State School for the Deaf in Rome will be hosting the overnight event on June 7th and 8th.

If you would like to help light the way to a cure, send a donation of $5 per candle (checks payable to the American Cancer Society) to Pat Mungari of the Rome Teachers Association, PO Box 1105, Rome, NY 13442. To participate in the Relay for Life of Rome, contact Kathy Peters of ACS by email ( or phone (724.8125). Registration cost is $10 and the registration deadline is May 30th. The opening ceremony takes place on the 7th at noon; the closing ceremony on the 8th at 11 a.m.

One Member's Voice: Wal-Mart intransigence toward unions part of a bigger picture
by Rich Lamasney

Editor's Note: We welcome member responses to this or any other article published in PAnorama.

Notwithstanding the self-congratulatory nattering of the mansion and Mercedes set, we live in fallen times.

As any more-than-casual student of American history would agree, ours was a middle-class revolution, led for the most part, by prosperous white men who sought to replace a political and economic system based on hereditary aristocracy with one based on meritocracy and individual initiative.

For two hundred years, as that new system grew and changed, the prosperous white men who ran it, out of religious conviction and a lingering sense of noblesse oblige, were willing to empower ever-greater numbers and varieties of ordinary human beings into full economic participation and political self-determination, within the boundaries of our democratic experiment.

The road to political equality and economic justice has not been an easy one. A ruinous Civil War was fought to free one group within our polity from literal slavery. Over time, successive waves of immigrants and native yeomanry joined forces, often reluctantly, to expand the franchise and to ensure the right of collective bargaining to industrial and agricultural workers. These collective efforts to improve the lot of ordinary Americans were met by stiff resistance at every step of the way by the forces of entrenched economic privilege and political reaction, often backed up by the peace-keeping capacity of the state and federal governments. Yet, slowly and painfully, real progress was made.

In an effort to both inhibit political radicalism and adhere to the spirit of competition and free enterprise, the federal government passed laws that restricted the combination and concentration of great wealth built up by huge corporations after the Civil War.

In the aftermath of the Great Depression, the New Deal instituted the rudiments of a social safety net under the precarious lives of the working poor. By the second half of the 20th century, most Americans exercised their franchise in most elections, and many workers belonged to some form of union. Of even more importance, most Americans believed with good reason that their government was on their side, and in the world at large America remained a shining example of the capacity of a democratic society to ensure freedom, equality, and justice for all.

And then what happened? Simply this: beginning with the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan, the powers of reaction began to roll back all of the gains of the past two centuries. In the last two decades, under the noses of a slumbering and ill-informed populace, there came to power a group of politicians so arrogant, short-sighted, and greedy, that they have, quite literally, begun to kill the goose that laid the golden egg!

Most of these "Contract With America" legislators, in spite of their strenuous, often unethical efforts to become part of the government, have ill-concealed contempt for that government. They believe that democratic institutions are irrelevant shows which must be tolerated in order to have the only things that really matter to them: the laws protecting private property and the law enforcement and military necessary to insure that protection.

All other possible functions of government--such as the regulation of corporate activity for the purpose of protecting the rights and general welfare of the public, the encouragement of the small, efficient units of business or agriculture that actually produce new jobs, the protection of the natural environment, and the seeking of consensus with the international community in matters of foreign policy--these legislators regard with a sneer. Consequently, our noble experiment in self-government is in far more danger of being poisoned from within than attacked from without!

In a sane legislative climate, the principle of economic competition would be protected from the rapid rise of cannibalistic economic combinations like Wal-Mart, and the right of Wal-Mart employees to unionize would be protected by federal law. A handful of huge corporations would not be allowed to eradicate small competitors and claim monopolistic market share in any sphere of economic activity.

Just as biological extinction simplifies and destabilizes natural systems, so the unregulated
predatory activities of giant corporations simplify and destabilize economic systems. Yet euphemisms like "outsourcing" and "downsizing" have entered the vocabulary as legitimate business activities, as 21st century business theorists resort to the 18th century laissez faire pronouncements of Thomas Malthus as their operating manual.

Wal-Mart has been encouraged to invade every demographic niche in the country; it certainly has not been restrained from doing so. The ostensible reason for allowing this elimination of smaller competitors such as local retail stores is that Wal-Mart, with its giant economies of scale, can afford to sell goods at lower retail prices than the small fry. This is at least temporarily true, and much of Wal-Mart's customer base are working-class and lower-middle-class consumers seeking the lowest prices.

These are also the same folks who seek employment with Wal-Mart. But the beast is not satisfied with dominance in most retail sales; it wants them all! You can now purchase all your fresh and processed foods from this same giant that not long ago carried only clothing and housewares. What's next? Wal-Mart life insurance, geriatric nursing, tombstones, and mortuary services?!

Is it any wonder, then, that Wal-Mart wants to prevent the unionization of its work force and institute a modern form of feudalism? This is an entity that wants it all, and has at least tacit government approval for its game plan. So how do we mere mortals register our disapproval of Wal-Mart's goals and methods?

Certainly voting with our wallets is an effective method. We can make an effort to buy goods from smaller retailers whenever possible, even if it costs a little extra. There will be no psychic loss in so doing; unless you are a herd animal, you will not miss the experience of shopping at Wal-Mart! In addition to boycotting, joining in pro-union demonstrations outside Wal-Mart stores is an effective way of showing solidarity with Wal-Mart employees and embarrassing the management. And there are other effective strategies available to citizens who want long-term, systemic reforms.

We need to put forth and sup-port local and statewide political candidates who are committed to economic diversity, economic justice, and humane economies of scale in business and agriculture. Grassroots organizing, voter registration drives, petition, initiative, referendum, and recall, are political tools still available to citizens of a democracy.

These methods are time-consuming and labor-intensive, but they are effective. Nothing good comes without sweat and sacrifice, and those of us who care about the future of our country have no choice!

From consolations to celebrations, Member Support & Recognition is here for you
by Carolyn West Pace

As we all know, life has its many ups and downs.

The grapevine will tell us that a colleague has published a book, has been elected to a position in a professional organization, or is celebrating the birth of a child or grandchild. These are all events that deserve acknowledgement and praise from colleagues. The same grapevine also will tell us of losses and sadnesses in our colleagues' lives, which call for the support and recognition of colleagues as well.

The members of the PA Member Support & Recognition Committee--Cyndi Busic-Snyder, Patty Hirsch, Beverly Jaskolka, and I--would like to know all about the ups and downs of PA members.

Each semester, we take turns sending notes of celebration and sympathy and everything in between to PA members. We watch for those all-too-frequent "sad news" messages on the MVCC email system, we listen carefully to co-workers, and we take emails and calls from concerned colleagues. Then we pick up our pens and write a personal note of consolation or celebration to express the PA's support.

If you know of anyone who should receive a card from the PA, please contact me by email at or by phone at 792.5447. And, since life brings so many ups and downs, our committee needs more members. If you'd like to join Member Support & Recognition, let me know that too.

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