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September 2019

Know your audience
Dante Morelli


  Dr. Kerry Spooner poses a question to FA President Dante Morelli
During the August 29 Executive Council training, Dr. Kerry Spooner, EC rep for adjuncts in English, poses a question to FA President Dante Morelli. "We want our members to get involved and take the lead on these initiatives and projects because it's their union," Morelli said. (photo by Cynthia Eaton)

The number one rule in communication is to know your audience. I repeat this in my courses every semester. The audience is the foundation of every group that aims to serve a large constituency.

For the FA, the audience is you: the member.

The membership entrusted me and the other officers to carry out the values of the FA for the next two years. Within the next year, we aim to take on a number of initiatives that include negotiating a fair contract for the membership, participation in the SCCC presidential search and an increase in membership participation.

Fair contract

The contract expired on August 31, 2019, but we are hopeful that negotiations with the college will result in a fair contract. Many of the Suffolk County unions settled their contracts over the summer, and we believe that our contract can potentially be settled this semester.

Thanks to the Triborough law in New York State, all of the benefits of the previous contract remain in place until a new contract is voted on and implemented. When we have an agreement with the college, we will contact all members in good standing to attend a general membership meeting before the contract is sent out for a vote.

SCCC presidential search

With Dr. McKay’s resignation as president, Lou Petrizzo was selected by the Board of Trustees (BOT) to serve as interim president until a successor is selected. The BOT has selected a firm to assist the committee in the national search and hopes to have a new president in place by July 2020. The FA contract states that we will have a representative on the presidential search committee; as of now, a committee has not been established.

Increased member participation

The FA has formed three new committees. The award selection committee will create a few awards, with criteria, that will be bestowed upon a member at the end of the year. I want to thank Dr. Michelle Fowler for agreeing to chair this committee.

Joan Wozniak will chair the social justice and community outreach committee. We decided to combine these two existing committees to have greater impact on social justice issues affecting our students and members.

Professor of mathematics Jane-Marie Wright will chair the election procedures committee to review and update our election procedures which has not been done since 2011. I want to thank these three leaders for their contribution and service to the FA.
If you are interested in serving on any of these committees, which counts as service for promotion, please email the FA at

Another initiative is the formation of a task force on students of concern. I am hearing more faculty in recent years voice concerns about a variety of issues on campus. Faculty may not always have the background or resources to navigate the issues that arise in and out of the classroom. My hope is to survey the membership this fall semester and form the task force in the spring.

Finally, my aim is to learn more about our audience: you, the member. I am going on a listening tour this year where I would like to meet with as many members as possible. My goal is to attend nearly every governance meeting at the three campuses, meet with individual departments, and spend time talking to each of the 35 EC reps about their leadership role in the FA. If invited, I would happily attend your department meetings or committee meetings to listen to your concerns.

While we aim to accomplish a lot, as a union we do face a number of challenges. Enrollment at the college is down 6% from last year which presents fiscal challenges for the college. Fewer students means fewer sections offered to faculty, which subsequently pushes down our membership numbers.

While there is much to be done and challenges to overcome, I am confident that our membership will confront what is ahead of us like this union has always done in the past.

Our union is only as strong as our membership. I look forward to meeting with you and continuing to build solidarity in our union.