Why should every NY State resident vote no?
By now, anyone who follows NY State politics knows that the Constitution requires a yes or no vote on the possibility of holding a constitutional convention every 20 years. On November 7th, every registered voter in NY state can weigh in on whether or not to allow constitutional changes with far-reaching effects. It is crucial that every educator, every public employee, their families and their allies vote with a resounding NO to defeat this measure.
All who wish to keep rights and protections currently written into the state constitution should vote ‘no.’ New York’s constitution protects parks and public lands from development and drilling. Also, it gives all workers the right to join a union and bargain collectively. It defends against race and gender discrimination in the workplace. Organizations encouraging a ‘yes’ vote argue that the constitution is antiquated and does not do enough for the environment, for gender equality, or for worker’s rights. I agree that changes should be made, but a convention that will be held at taxpayer expense to the tune of tens of millions of dollars is not the best way to go about it. At such a convention corporate interests and their lobbyists will dominate. This could very well lead to an erosion, not a strengthening, of the rights that citizen’s groups are concerned about.
Why should teachers and state employees vote no?
The obvious reason for a ‘no’ vote is that as employees of the state of New York’s current Constitution guarantees our pensions and the investment options in our TDA. The moneyed interests buying TV time to encourage a ‘yes’ vote desire cuts. They either wish to gain yet more tax cuts for the already wealthy or to profit from privatizing publicly funded pensions and investments that attract talented educators. The hard-won benefits that we enjoy keep teachers in the classroom at a time when we are approaching another teacher shortage. The NY Post, owned by teacher hating billionaire Rupert Murdoch, calls teachers selfish for wanting to keep our benefits. We call them truly selfish for wanting to further gut the safety net that protects public employees. When we ensure that teachers have fair pay and benefits to lead a decent life, students and communities benefit also.
Important as it it, voting NO on Tuesday, November 7th is only the beginning. I desire, and hope we all desire, a NY state that does more to protect the environment, gender equality, and worker’s rights. I want to rein in the excessive executive power held by whomever is in office in Albany. We should do this through the legislative process by contacting our state senators and representatives to support individual amendments, not a convention dominated by big money. Let’s get active and push for change the right way, not put hard-won rights and benefits at risk. Vote No on proposition 1, and spread the word!