July 1, 2017
This is Not a “People’s Convention”
On Election Day, there will be an incredibly important question on the ballot, which gives you the opportunity to decide whether or not a Constitutional Convention will be held. This Convention, if approved by New York voters, will allow for changes and additions to the New York State Constitution.
Referendums on Constitutional Conventions occur every 20 years and one hasn’t occurred in our State since the 1960s. While it might seem appealing to modernize the text of our State Constitution to reflect many changes that have taken place over the last 50 years, we are at a risk of losing a lot more than we stand to gain. New York is one of the only States that explicitly states the rights of its residents to collectively bargain for a fair contract. It also contains strong language that ensures pensions for public sector workers, as well as the right to workers compensation should you be injured on the job. If voters elect to hold a Convention, it could potentially limit the power Local 338 and other unions have to fight for your rights and protections in your workplace.
A Constitutional Convention is an expensive process with no projected timeline or established agenda. The agenda would be set by elected Delegates who are often sitting elected officials. These delegates would be paid their normal salaries plus an additional $80,000 taxpayer-funded bonus. Taxpayers will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars and the added bonuses will raise the possibility of corruption and the convention lasting years longer than it should. Many advocates of the Constitutional Convention believe that a Convention will allow us to finally attain certain important language like much needed ethics reform. However, much of what supporters have proposed can be achieved simply through the passage of legislation at a fraction of the cost to New York’s taxpayers.
Even more concerning is the reality of those who are supporting the Constitutional Convention. The Convention is being championed as “the People’s Convention.” However, it is just the opposite. Special interest groups and the billionaire class have already begun pouring millions of dollars into our state to try to influence voters further grow their own wealth at your expense. These groups could have a strong influence to make changes in the Constitution without consideration of the things that we all value as hard working New Yorkers.
There is a real risk that the protections that we currently have could be eliminated in a new State Constitution or that anti-union language like “Right to Work for Less” could be added to undermine our power as union members. This could truly make it more difficult to negotiate a fair contract with the benefits and protections that you have earned. To ensure that the things we value as working people are heard in Albany, it is especially important that we continue to stand together and fight for our rights by voting NO to a Constitutional Convention on Election Day. Please also encourage your coworkers, friends, and family to do the same!
As Always, and In Solidarity,
John R. Durso
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