PAnorama: September 2003
Executive, legislators endorsed for election
The Executive Board of the Professional Association voted this week to endorse
candidates for Oneida County offices in the November election. Endorsed were
County Executive Joseph A. Griffo (R) and legislators representing seven Oneida
County districts: William B. Croll (R, District 2), Robert D. Kelly (R, District
19), Edward P. Welsh (R, District 21), Harry A. Hertline (D, District 22), Rose
Ann Convertino (D, District 23), Emil R. Paparella (R, District 24), and David
J. Wood (R, District 28).
The result of a process begun in mid-July, these endorsements are another example
of the union’s commitment to political action. Although the PA has endorsed
candidates in the past--County Executive Ralph Eannace for re-election to his
second term and County Clerk Rick Allen for election to his current term--this
is the first time endorsements interviews were offered to those running for
election or re-election to the Oneida County Board of Legislators. In keeping
with this expanded effort, the PA Executive Board adopted policies and guidelines
to govern endorsements.
Interviews, attended by members of the Political Action Committee--Chair Mike
Sewall, Beverly Quist, Lorie Phillips, and Bill Perrotti--and PA President Ellis
Gage Searles, were held during the weeks of August 4th and 18th and September
15th. The meetings focused on issues of mutual concern, including MVCC’s
role in the economic development of the region and the PA’s central place
in the life of the College. Each candidate received an information packet con-taining
charts related to MVCC’s funding and comparative salary data.
Letters have been sent to the presidents of all NYSUT locals in Oneida County
to inform them of the PA endorsements and to request their support for these
candidates. In addition, an ad will appear in the October 22nd issue of New
York Teacher. PA Political Action Chair Mike Sewall will be coordinating
members’ efforts during the campaign.
Editor’s Note: The PA’s newly adopted Endorsements
Policies and Guidelines can be found below.
energized for second year
A special PA personality graced the stage during MVCC’s 2003 Commencement.
President Searles was on stage to congratulate each graduate and to present
a keepsake keyring on behalf of the PA membership. With the help of funding
from our Local Action Project (LAP) grant, the PA has begun what is intended
to be an annual event.
As shown on our LAP pages, the bronze tone metal
keyrings 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. In addition, the Commencement program featured a full-page letter
from the PA, explaining the keyrings and offering our collective congratulations
and good wishes to this year’s graduates. The LAP team developed the idea
while brainstorming ways to conclude the first year of our LAP grant from NYSUT
with a strong nod to our priorities: congratulating and celebrating the students
whom we’ve helped to succeed in their academic careers here at MVCC.
Our first year in LAP offered other highlights, from last October’s Halloween-themed
Monster Mash party to a membership survey and related distribution of new blue
PA polo shirts. Several of our LAP efforts were noted in a
March New York Teacher article, such as our reinvigorated community
outreach offerings and political action efforts.
We have developed several other ways to promote the PA’s identity, too,
both with our students and in the community. For example, Gene Militello and
George Zook created several sets of magnetic PA signs to affix to our vehicles
when traveling on PA business. We used them when we attended the Rally for Public
Education in March, and they were a big hit at this year’s LAP Conference.
We also supplied several hundred blue PA pens during the summer student registration
In year two of LAP, major initiatives will include a community survey conducted
by the NYSUT Polling Center. Furthermore, Beverly Quist notes, “We will
be looking to clarify the ways in which we honor our commitment to our students,
to our colleagues, and to our community.” To help us achieve our goals,
we have added three new LAP team leaders: Carolyn D’Argenio, who has served
several terms on the Grievance Committee; Steve Getchell, a longtime PA activist;
and George Zook, designer of our PA identity package.
PAnorama is the voice of our local. In addition to the PA website
(www.mvccpa.org), email, and bulletin boards,
PAnorama is a principal vehicle for bringing you, on a regular basis,
information on the views and activities of our members.
We welcome articles by, for, and about PA members on union-related issues and
concerns as reflected in NYSUT and AFT activities as well as in the purpose
and functions of the PA’s standing committees:
Community Outreach, Education & Training, Grievance, Internal Communications,
Member Services, Negotiations, Political Action, and Research and Records.
All submissions are subject to the review and acceptance of the Editor and/or
Internal Communications Committee. We do not accept articles that make personal
attacks and we reserve the right to edit articles for length. We look forward
to hearing from you.
PA’s in action: Productively, politically
Ellis Gage Searles
Lazy, they were definitely not. The summer days just past were in fact filled
with PA activity that is now spilling into fall, gathering even more momentum
from the renewed vitality that always seems to accompany the start of the academic
Just look at these pages. Members are at work on benefits, communications,
negotiations, and grievances--protecting our rights and strengthening us as
an organization. At the same time, others are helping the Professional Association
to develop ties with our community, here on campus and throughout our region
and our state.
Some of this the Association has always done. But some are new developments,
the product of greater involvement by more of the membership as well as a growing
awareness among us that improving our professional life means having a greater
voice in everything that affects it.
One of these newer initiatives has been our political action. Over the last
few years, the Professional Association has been working to communicate more
effectively with legislators and policymakers. As an organization, we want to
gain a better understanding of the political process and become more active
within it. In line with that, most recently, the PA began a series of endorsement
interviews in anticipation of this fall’s election.
Every two years, the seats on the Oneida County Board of Legislators are up
for election. This year there is also a race for Oneida County Executive. The
individuals who serve in those positions regularly make decisions that have
a very direct impact on MVCC and on us. Supporting candidates who support public
education in general--and our college in particular--is in the best interests
of our membership and our community. MVCC is not only the institution to which
we are devoting our careers; it is also key to the economic revival of the region
in which we live.
Through the electoral process, we declare our beliefs and our values. Our responsibility
as a constituency, then, is to communicate our concerns, endorse those who express
support for our issues, and not only vote for but work to elect
candidates who will make good things happen. I hope you will join in this effort.
Elsewhere in PAnorama, the candidates we’re
endorsing are highlighted. In the coming weeks there will be campaigning.
PA members will be at work--making phone calls, sending letters, and getting
the message out.
As Tip O’Neil so famously said, “All politics is local.”
It is here that we can make a real difference. We can elect representatives
who believe as we do that MVCC is a vital asset to our region and who recognize
our central role in its ongoing success. If you have ever followed local politics,
you know that a very small number of ballots often decides who wins an election.
Let’s seize this opportunity. Do our part. Voice support. Inform others.
And then, most importantly, vote.
welcomes new members, sponsors breakfast
A PA-sponsored New Member Breakfast was held on the morning of September 17th.
New and longtime PA members enjoyed bagels, coffee, and juice, courtesy of the
Member Services Committee. New members who weren’t able to attend the
breakfast should contact Gene Militello or Ellis Gage Searles for important
Committee offers updates on discipline and other matters
The Grievance Committee has been very busy since my last report in PAnorama.
Two related cases have important--perhaps critical--implications for the employees
represented by the Association.
In the first case, an accusation was made by a student (or students) about
the conduct of an employee. The College chose to invoke the disciplinary process
in Article 7.3 of the contract, seeking termination of the individual. At the
meeting to clarify the charges, the College was asked to provide the names of
the students making the accusations and to give specifics on events, places,
dates, and so on. The College refused to do so, instead offering only some general
Imagine being accused of something and not knowing who is making the charge.
It brought back shades of McCarthyism. What is more fundamental to our concepts
of innocent until proven guilty than knowing your accuser? How would it be possible
for the Association to validate or invalidate the conclusions reached by the
inquisitors without knowing who, what, when, where, and witnesses? For those
with career or continuing appointment, this denies the principle of termination
only for “just cause” found in Article 4.2.
In the second case, the College did terminate the employee without following
its own policies for such matters. As employees we are held to many standards:
some are contractual, some are moral or ethical, and others are found in Board
of Trustees policy and made known to us in the Faculty/Staff Handbook. The protection
afforded to us in those policies insures a fair process of determination in
The College, however, in its rush to judgment, did not follow those policies.
The guaranties of fairness and appeal were not adhered to. Due process and just
cause were tossed aside in an effort to “protect the students.”
While this might have been a noble purpose in the old days of in loco parentis,
it is without merit when one considers that today college students are assumed
to be adults responsible for their actions and that the career of someone is
at stake. Perhaps the stake the College wants to use from now on has roots in
Salem, Massachusetts, 300+ years ago. The Association will fight to maintain
due process and just cause protections for all employees.
With new Grievance team members elected in the Spring, our team currently
includes Carolyn D’Argenio, Paul Halko, Dawson McDermott, Tom Schink,
and Dennis Rahn as Chair. Jim Henck, our NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist,
conducted a training session with the committee, briefing us on the elements
of a grievance, how we should handle such matters, and the role of individual
Grievances with Extensions
Several pending grievances center on the College assigning courses and
not paying the instructor to teach them. Some of these may be resolved through
negotiations that are currently taking place.
A faculty member in her third year did not have her appointment renewed.
A grievance was filed, which went to Step 2. After a careful review of the
College’s response at Step 1 and a similar response from the appeal
to the President, the Committee voted to not submit the grievance to arbitration.
An excluded administrator seemed to interfere with the prosecution of a
grievance. A second grievance on the interference was filed and a response
was received. After President Searles discussed the matter with President
Schafer, the grievance was allowed to expire.
Discipline Representation & Pending Action
Two members of the faculty were involved in discipline at the end of Spring
2003. The penalty the College sought for both was termination.
Members of the committee were present for the Notice of Charge and for
the subsequent meeting to explain the charges. Jim Henck and one of our
Grievance Committee members represented the Association and the member at
the second meeting. The committee advised the members in their response
to the charges. The Board of Trustees on August 14, 2003, dismissed both
Currently Jim and the committee are working on Step 1 grievances. These
will be passed to NYSUT Legal in Albany, which will most likely represent
the two individuals at arbitration.
Grievances at Step 1
In the course of a disciplinary action seeking termination of one of the
faculty members above, the College refused to disclose the names of accusers,
dates, times, and other specifics of the charge. A grievance has been filed
demanding such information, claiming that withholding such information is
a violation of just cause protections in Article 4.
New BOT Policy
The committee has informed the College that it cannot enter into individual
negotiations with members or create extra-contractual pay rates as a result
of a new policy passed at the August Board of Trustees meeting.
The Negotiations team has been busy throughout the summer, addressing issues
that were put into committee at the conclusion of last year’s negotiations.
These negotiations have continued into the current Fall term.
Two of the issues receiving our attention in these ongoing negotiations are
in the areas of advisement and dual credit, for which Article 6.7 and Article
5.15.D call for continuing negotiations, respectively. In addition, grievance
activity made clear the need to negotiate what are being called “extra-contractual
courses,” which the College and PA have decided to negotiate to a mutually
acceptable agreement. Online course issues as well as the pay rate for participants
in the Millennium Project have been on the table for discussion too.
Finally, PA salary increases--currently pending approval in the Oneida County
Board of Legislators budget process--also received our attention this summer.
Member's Voice: Left Hook, Right Cross
Editor’s Note: This editorial comes in response to “Wal-Mart
intransigence toward unions part of a bigger picture” by Rich Lamasney
in the May 2003 PAnorama. Before submitting
articles, stories, and letters to the editor, please review the PAnorama
Rich Lamasney’s Wal-Mart article sparked my interest, and I wasn’t
surprised by its tenor, given the forum in which it was published. As with all
editorials, there are two points of view, and the truth most likely lies somewhere
My wife worked for a competitor (a union shop) for over twenty years. Four
years ago she accepted a similar position with Wal-Mart and has happily told
everyone she knows (literally) how much happier she is. Not only does she make
considerably more money, she is treated respectfully and made to feel like a
No rational person can discount the benefit unions provide, both now and in
the past. Make no mistake, I am eternally grateful for the several unions I
have been associated with, including the PA. But too often union shops are characterized
by an us-against-them relationship (yes, I see that right here at MVCC). Wal-Mart
and its employees do not suffer that ignominy, and that’s the way it ought
to be. My wife believes, and so do I, that she has little to gain and much to
lose by any union organization.
I may be a skeptic, but my feeling is that any attempt to organize Wal-Mart
employees is more about dues than worker rights and benefits.
ETP and MVCC, Ro Rosen and Me
The NYSUT Effective Teaching
Program (ETP) will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2004. For twenty-five
years, this program has developed graduate and undergraduate courses that bear
credit from several colleges and universities in New York.
The beauty of the program is that K-12 grade teachers become ETP instructors
and teach other teachers. Every August the ETP instructors attend an intensive
45-hour train-the-trainer session. Each year we are trained in a class within
our area of expertise, and then bring the course back to our region to offer
the course to interested participants as a 3-credit graduate course or as an
ETP is a self-sufficient learning trust, a branch of NYSUT, with over 100 instructors
statewide. ETP has evolved since its humble beginnings. There are now over 50
courses which bear college graduate credit, as well as programs for training
school support staff as well as offering a joint Master’s program in two
sites, upstate and downstate.
MVCC, specifically the Psychology, Human Services and Education Department,
has a joint venture with the school support staff component. We have developed
an 18-credit hour certificate designed to meet the new regulations for Teacher
Assistant established by the New York State Education Department.
I have served as an ETP instructor for three years and have attended three
summer training sessions on topics including Brain Compatible Classrooms, Brain
Based Teaching, and most recently Best Practices and Key Concepts in English
Language Arts (ELA) K-8 Grade. I also have been busy teaching Child Development;
the Study of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in Children and Adolescents;
Brain Compatible Classroom; and this semester Teaching Math, Science and Technology
in the Elementary Grades--all part of the Master’s programs offered jointly
through ETP and Touro College.
This year’s training was held at Roaring Brook Ranch in Lake George.
In the Best Practices and Key Concepts in English Language Arts (ELA) K-8 session,
the 12 class participants, myself included, created a daily newspaper for all
instructors attending the eight-day training. All of the course teachers, ETP
personnel, and personnel at Roaring Brook were interviewed by various participants
in the ELA course.
One of my articles included an interview with the new ETP Program Manager,
Ro Rosen. The following is a reprint of the article.
Seeing It Through “Ro”se Colored Glasses
I had the opportunity to interview Ro, the new Program Manager of the NYSUT
Learning Trust. We sat for quite a long time and discussed philosophies, ideas,
visions, and issues. I use the word interview loosely, as most of the time
spent was in a discussion that I found fascinating, invigorating, and exciting.
Ro spent thirty years in government, including education, budgeting, and
human resources. She felt like the job of Program Manager of the NYSUT Learning
Trust would be an enjoyable job, merging her interests in education and management
in a fun, exciting, and meaningful manner. She felt it was the right next
move for her professionally and believes this to be a great program of which
she wanted to be a part.
The highlight of her first Roaring Brook experience was the singing activity
she participated in when she visited the STAR class. She, along with the other
members of her group, made up a song about students who don’t have the
personal power model.
Ro discussed her philosophy of education and learning. The teacher is the
most important factor in education and learning, and effective teacers result
in excellent student outcomes. However, it’s not as simple as cause
and effect; there are numerous mediating variables. These variables make the
task very difficult.
That’s where ETP becomes so important. Its job is to equip teachers
at a conceptual, practical, and pedagogical level. The understanding and intellectual
renewing that comes from participating in an ETP class help teachers to complete
the difficult task and reduce the effects of the mediating variables on student
outcomes. The ETP classes provide participants with hope, refreshing them,
and providing them with thought-provoking and intellectually-stimulating critical
thinking and scholarship opportunities.
Our job as instructors becomes two-fold: to fill the gaps in teacher preparation
and to build on the teacher preparation required in New York State. One of
the strengths of ETP classes is that they are take into consideration the
reality of the classroom and are research-based. Teachers of all experience
levels can benefit from an ETP class, bringing something to the class they
take as participants and implementing it back into their own classroom.
Ro’s vision for ETP involves many facets. Beginning with the endeavor
in new and exciting partnerships with research-based institutions, including
higher education institutions, publishing companies and training organizations,
she hopes to continue the development and revision of a strategic plan for
the organization--especially with teachers involved in classroom research,
supported by relationships with higher education and publishing companies.
Ro also would like to see the continued improvement of the rigor of the classes
offered, the creation of more classes (specifically in the content areas)
as research-based and pedagogically grounded, as well as to seek grants to
fund research and program development.
As a result of this, we would have more of presence in the research world,
be on the frontier of education in New York State and beyond, and serve as
a source of information for more teachers. This creates opportunities for
the whole program as well as for each teacher by way of publishing materials,
articles, texts, etc. In turn, this would create an opportunity for teachers
to test out best practices in the classroom in a research-based manner that
supports the ETP course content. All of this makes the program have an increased
presence in New York State, in higher education institutions, and in publishing
companies--creating a beneficial snowball effect for all involved.
the benefits of PA membership
MVCCPA Benefits Fund Trustees met on September 25th to review the vision benefit
already in place and to begin discussions of possible additional benefits.
Many PA members have been reporting how satisfied they are with the services
of participating providers and with the new glasses or contacts that they and
their family members have received through the Davis Vision Plan. Registration
in the plan has gone smoothly.
Benefit Fund Trustee Ron Miller reported that he found Empire Vision “well
prepared” for PA members and that the process was “as painless as
it possibly could be.” Ron and his wife, daughter, and son all have new
contacts or glasses thanks to the PA’s first benefit. Ron indicated that
he could not be happier with the care provided to his daughter, who has complications
with her eyesight. “Overall,” Ron estimated, “including the
exams and eyewear, I probably saved well over $600.”
Other members who have expressed gratitude for this vision benefit include
Doreen Nicholls, who described the transaction as easy and smooth; Bruce Kurtz,
who said this is the best benefit he has ever received; Greg Sydoriw, who’s
happy to have new eyewear for himself and his wife and son; and Sam Drogo, who
reported that he saw a sign welcoming MVCC PA members at his local Empire Vision.
Many others have expressed thanks as well.
Database management for the Benefits Fund is being handled by PA Web Manager
Norma Chrisman, who also has a new pair of glasses. Norma said, “We decided
to use an online enrollment form using the PA website to make this process as
convenient for members as possible. I use an Access database to maintain our
files, which has proven much more efficient for the PA too.”
As provided in Article 10.11.G of the contract, the College’s next payment
to the Benefits Fund, equal to 50% of the total sum for this year, will be made
on October 1st. Fund Trustees will meet with NYSUT Benefits Representative Laura
Calhoun during October to get information about other NYSUT-endorsed benefits.
They will also attend a NYSUT-sponsored workshop about HIPAA regulations.
Members who have questions about the MVCCPA Benefits Fund should contact me
or any of the other Fund Trustees: Julie Dewan, Sam Drogo, Ron Miller, and Ellis
back at spring and summer strides, lacing up for new Strides
The Community Outreach Committee reports several activities from the spring
and summer, while drawing our attention to this year’s Making Strides
Against Breast Cancer event.
The PA contributed to the annual MVCC Foundation Golf Tournament by sponsoring
a PA team, which included the following fairway fans:
- Paul Halko
- Doug Hyldelund
- Ron Labuz
- Mike Sewall
Fritz Barns, Director of the Foundation, said that he’s “extremely
pleased” with the PA’s participation, adding, “I hope to see
PA members at our future events as well.” The PA also supported the Hospice
Golf Tournament by donating $100.00 to sponsor a putting contest.
Our next major Community Outreach event is the Making Strides Against Breast
Cancer walk. PA team captain Wendy Palczynski invites you to join your PA, College,
and community friends by participating in this year’s Making Strides--either
by walking, sponsoring a fellow PA member, or donating to the American Cancer
Society to help make a difference in breast cancer research, education, advocacy,
Making Strides will take place at the SUNY Institute of Technology campus
on Sunday, October 19th. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m., and we start making
strides at 11:00 a.m. Contact Wendy
in the Admissions Office (792.5350) if you have any questions or if you plan
to participate in this year’s event.
Finally, this month’s Community Outreach column would not be complete
without acknowledging and thanking Sam and Janice Russo for their $100.00 donation
to the PA scholarship. The PA greatly appreciates this support of our very important
annual scholarship to benefit our students.
policies and guidelines
The MVCC Professional Association is “a vehicle to address issues and
forces affecting the professional lives of the employees it represents.”
Central to this mission must be an awareness of the fact that, as public community
college faculty and professional staff, we cannot stand apart from the political
process. Essential elements of our professional lives, such as compensation,
working conditions, and retirement benefits, are affected by what happens in
To have a positive impact on our future, therefore, we must be active in politics
locally, statewide, and nationally. We must alert policymakers to issues that
are important to us, and we must support those who vote in favor of legislation
that has an impact on the PA and on Mohawk Valley Community College.
On the state and federal level, political action on our behalf is coordinated
by our affiliates, New York State United Teachers
(NYSUT) and American Federation of Teachers
(AFT). At the same time, with their support and guidance, the MVCC Professional
Association participates independently in the political process on the local
level. Accordingly, endorsements of candidates seeking office are handled by
each of these organizations respectively, with local races--those in Oneida
County--the responsibility of the Professional Association.
The PA will make endorsements according to the following guidelines:
- The endorsement process will consider candidates running for office in Oneida
- The endorsement process is non-partisan. A candidate’s political party
affiliation will not be a consideration.
- Candidates will be invited to meet with members of the PA Political Action
Committee and/or Executive Board. Those who do not attend such a meeting will
not be considered for endorsement. These meetings will provide opportunities
for discussion of issues important to the PA and to the College. Candidates’
views on these issues will be sought. No other issues will enter the deliberations.
- In open races, the PA will remain neutral unless there is a compelling reason
to make an endorsement.
- Recommendations for political endorsement will be based upon
- Consideration foremost of endorsement of those incumbents whose records
have been substantially in support of the legislative issues affecting
the Professional Association and the College, such as the MVCC budget,
the PA contract, and MVCC capital projects.
- Consideration of endorsement of candidates whose statements reflect
knowledge of the value of MVCC to Oneida County and the College’s
role in economic development.
- Consideration of endorsement of candidates who demonstrate awareness
of the need to recruit and retain highly qualified faculty and staff
and the impact that has on the College’s reputation and its competitiveness
in the education marketplace.
- Consideration of making an endorsement or remaining neutral in open
races when both candidates support the College’s and the PA’s
- After such consideration, the PA Political Action Committee will present
recommendations regarding endorsements to the Executive Board for a vote.
This will be done in time for action in either a primary campaign or in the
- Once the PA Executive Board has endorsed a candidate, an announcement will
be made to the entire membership of the Professional Association through e-mail,
PAnorama, and www.mvccpa.org.
- Letters of support for endorsed candidates will be sent to all our NYSUT
colleagues in Oneida County through the presidents of K-12 locals. Flyers
will be provided for posting and duplicating.
- PA endorsements will also be published in New York Teacher prior to Election
- Other support--phone banks, assistance with campaigns, etc.--will be offered
- Costs associated with candidate screenings, postage, and duplication will
be reimbursed through VOTE/COPE funds.
- No changes in endorsement will be undertaken except for the most serious
- There shall be an automatic review of the endorsement of any candidate who
loses a major political party primary.
MVCCPA Executive Board
August 20, 2003
takes seven AFTCA Journalism awards, website wins 1st place
In addition to five awards garnered by PAnorama in the NYSUT Journalism
Competition this year, the PA is proud to have won seven in the AFTCA
- 1st place: Best Feature Story
- 1st place: Unique Performance
- 1st place: Best Web Site
- 2nd place: Best News Story
- 3rd place: Best Editorial
- 3rd place: Best Art or Photo
- 3rd place: Best Layout/Graphics
We’re most proud of our website’s first-place award for our local
size/category. The judges’ review is encouraging and, as always, we seek
member feedback on how to our union website more informative and easy to use.
Judges wrote, “An interesting and engaging site. Well done!” and
“I enjoyed visiting this site. Keep up the great work!” among other
- Navigation: “I am a big fan of ‘breadcrumb’ navigation.
It is great to see it used here. The navigation...of the site is consistent
and easy to use.”
- Content: “I like the information on the home page highlighting
the activities of the local from the past two years. ...The member communications
area appears to be the heart of the site, as it should be. I like...the
newsletter posted online.”
- Features: “The site is… maintained using ColdFusion,
creating a database driven website rather than static web pages...quite
an advanced feature for a small local. Congratulations! I like the different
images of members in the page headers. ...it is important to have pictures
of members throughout the site. The events and photos section is a nice
touch and well-organized.”
Direct your ideas and feedback to our PA web manager, Norma
members serving on statewide NYSUT committees