Once every 20 years, New York State voters face the question of whether the state should hold a Constitutional Convention. This is the year. On the back of your ballot on Election Day next week will be Proposition 1: “Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend same?” I am voting “NO.” I urge you to do the same.
The PSC strongly opposes holding a Constitutional Convention (popularly called a “Con Con”). We are part of a large coalition opposing the Con Con, together with the Sierra Club, the Council of Churches, AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood, NYSUT and scores of other groups.
In an ideal world, it might be reasonable to open up the entire state constitution for reconsideration. But the political world we live in is dominated by money. If a Con Con were to be held, the same big-money forces that are trying to impose permanent economic austerity on working people, on CUNY, would pour money into the Convention to advance their own interests.
If a convention were to occur, anything in the state constitution could be rewritten. Every provision that matters to PSC members would be at risk:
The prohibition against reducing public pension benefits
The right to be a member of a union and bargain collectively
Rights to workers’ compensation
Protection of the Adirondacks as “forever wild”
The guarantee of the right to a free public education.
A Con Con could also attack tenure at CUNY, a provision that is currently protected in state law.
There is just too much at risk—especially in the current political climate.
The state constitution can be amended at any time, and has been amended more than 200 times through the normal legislative process. A Con Con would open up the process to paid delegates and moneyed groups eager to restructure state government, change the law to favor corporate interest and reduce our rights.
Supporters of a Con Con claim that it would be a much-needed chance to reform Albany. They claim that it would introduce ethics reforms and other beneficial changes. Theoretically, it could. But the reality is that it would be a platform for moneyed and powerful interests that have not succeeded in gutting the constitution through the normal process of amendment. They are waiting in the wings to undermine every protection in the constitution for workers, women, the public sector and the environment.
The New York Times recently quoted Donna Lieberman, head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, explaining her group’s opposition: “I have a wish-list a mile deep of things I’d like to fix, change and add. But I believe the Constitution . . . should be hard to change and should not be up for grabs in its entirety.”
A Con Con would become a mechanism for increased corporate influence masquerading as democracy. Don’t fall for it.
Vote NO on Proposition 1. Remember that you have to turn your ballot over to the flip-side to find it. If you can help us to get the message out to other PSC members, please contact us here.
Protect our pensions and our rights: Vote NO on Proposition 1!
Thank you, Barbara Bowen President, PSC
Volunteer to Help Get Out the Union Vote
The PSC opposes the constitutional convention (“Con Con”) because it would be a chance to take away workers’ rights and undermine public pension protections. PSC members are mobilizing their colleagues to vote “NO!” on November 7 by phone banking their colleagues every Wednesday evening. These phone banks will take place at the union office. Members can also sign up to make call from home via the “virtual phone bank.” Click here to volunteer.
Every 20 years a referendum is held on the constitutional convention, commonly known as “Con Con.” The convention could allow special interests to reverse union/workers’ right victories and alter public education as we know it.
What’s at Stake?
Right to Free Public Education
Prohibiting reduction in public pension benefits
Rights to workers’ compensation
State mandate to provide for social welfare needs
On Tuesday, November 7th join fellow union members by voting NO to a New York State Constitutional Convention!
[Click the attachment below to download a PowerPoint presentation urging a “no” vote given at the 10/6/17 Retiree Chapter meeting by Barry Kaufmann, President of the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans.]