All Teachers Must Vote No on the Constitutional Convention Question

Monday, October 2, 2017
Welcome back, I hope you had a relaxing and well-deserved summer vacation and are now enjoying a great start to the 2016-17 school year.
This November, we need you. On Election Day, November 7th there is a simple YES or NO question on the ballot here in New York State that could have significant negative consequences for all of us:
"Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?"
Every 20 years, New Yorkers, by law, are faced with a simple decision about whether or not to hold a convention to consider amendments to our state constitution. We need everyone in our union, and all of our friends and families to go into the voting booths on Election Day armed with the facts about the dangerous repercussions that could occur in a constitutional convention and cast a decisive vote of NO on this question.
The New York State Constitution provides all of us with very basic protections, including:
  • Equal rights for all citizens under the law
  • The right to collectively bargain
  • Funding for Public Schools
  • A Guaranteed right to a free public education
  • The right to Unionize
A Constitutional Convention would give hostile forces a direct path towards rolling back these basic rights! Nothing would be off the table!
All members of the LUT will benefit from what is the 'Gold Standard' for pensions. We have earned this benefit, and we have managed it well. Unfortunately, there are many who would like to have access to our pensions, and some who would like to see our pensions reduced or eliminated altogether. Our pensions are protected by a single sentence-long provision in our state constitution. Any 'tweak' to this provision could spell disaster.
With special interest groups so entrenched in the political process, a convention is primed more than ever to open. And, because this is an "off-year" election with so few major positions up for a vote, turnout is expected to be low. In an off-year election such as this one, special interests would not need to work very hard at all to tip the scales against us. EVERY VOTE WE CAN GET WILL COUNT!
I ask all of you to speak with friends and family and make sure they are aware of all the reasons why they should vote NO on holding a constitutional convention. Here are a few points to mention:
  • Holding a constitutional convention will cost well over $300 million dollars and the residents of New York State will be footing the bill for it for years to come in the form of higher taxes.
  • Changes to our constitution can be made in our state congress through an amendment process that can take place without holding a convention, AND, at zero additional cost to the taxpayers of New York.
  • Over the last 100 years, the New York State Constitution has been amended over 200 times without a Constitutional Convention.
The LUT has been an active participant in efforts to get out a vote of NO for a constitutional convention. Last Spring, we kicked off our 'Vote-NO' campaign by inviting all factions of Levittown to a forum. Those who attended saw a presentation from Nassau NYSUT leadership. Our Political Action Vice-President, John Lipani, and myself, have visited many of our school buildings and presented facts and answered questions from our members.
Right now we are continuing our push to educate the public and encourage a vote of NO to a constitutional convention on Election Day. Our efforts include:
  • Ordering VOTE NO lawn signs. See your building reps if you wish to get one.
  • Providing each of our members with VOTE NO car magnets.
  • Providing sample ballots to share with family and friends.
  • Participating with NYSUT in phone banking to make sure we identify and rally those who will VOTE NO on Election Day.
  • Identifying and training LUT members as ambassadors who will discuss with the rest of our membership the importance of voting NO and the value of union membership.
I encourage everyone to GET INVOLVED. Read this newsletter, display your lawn signs and car magnets, check in with our website and Facebook page for more information, educate yourself and family and friends about what we are all calling. "The Con-Con." Help save our pensions, save our state from higher taxes and save all citizens in our state from having their constitutionally protected rights taken away by special interests.