Editor's Note: As members of academia, I think many of us already know the importance of attending conferences in our disciplines; but how many of us have considered attending a conference about union activities, issues and interests? Bruce's post for this week speaks to his experience at one such conference, and reveals how much you can learn about (and learn to appreciate) your very own union at such an event. -- SKG
I recently attended the 35th Annual NYSUT Community College Conference in Cooperstown at the Otesaga Hotel. The conference occurs annually in November, at an upstate venue. It is always interesting, informative and entertaining.
|Look at that scenery! (Oh yeah, and the landscape is nice, too.)|
So why should you attend? First, it is a chance to meet with fellow community college colleagues from around the state and interact about institutional, political and union issues. Second, the conference offers numerous workshops, as well as a diverse and informative group of speakers during the breakfast, lunch and dinner sessions. This year’s sessions included Leadership Development: Understanding Conflict, Basic Negotiations: Principles and Theory, Why MOOC’s Matter, Advanced Negotiations: Challenges to Public Sector Unionism, How to Be Smart When Using Social Media, Basic Negotiations: Techniques and Practice, We’re REALLY Disappointed: Civil Expressions of Power, The Union’s Role in Addressing Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment, Basic Negotiations: Developing Contract Language, Who’s on Deck? Leadership Succession Planning, Advanced Negotiations: Issues for Everyone BUT Full-Time Classroom Faculty and What Do You Stand For?: Branding and Local Identity.
Among the presenters this year were our President Kevin Peterman, our Vice President, Sean Tvelia and our Adjunct Coordinator, Cynthia Eaton. It is assumed that our Faculty Association is similar to others in the state. Attending the conference highlights just how wrong that statement is. Kevin Peterman discussed many issues including collective bargaining, having a working relationship with administration political action, engaging union members, promoting common goals among members and planning for the future. Many from other colleges were amazed at our association model and requested that Kevin present at their college associations. It seems that many unions from other colleges have trouble gaining any attendance or interest for union activity.
The conference runs from Friday evening to Sunday morning. During the day on Saturday there is an extended break allowing participants to travel to town and the surrounding area to explore everything from the Baseball Hall of Fame to local farms, wineries, and small town stores and shops.
The previous year’s conference venue was at Saratoga and the conference usually changes venues each year. I have gained valuable new information at every community college conference I have attended, as well as a greater appreciation for our union, its officers and members. We always have one the largest attending groups at the conference and I encourage you to attend and hope to see you next year at the 2014 NYUT Community College Conference.