Beware of the 2017 Constitutional Convention
A CALL TO ACTION!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Under the New York State Constitution (Article 19, §2), every twenty years the people of New York State may be asked to vote on a question that will appear on the top of the ballot: “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitutionand amend the same?” If passed, on November 7, 2017, these simple twelve words will have a huge impact not only on our members, but also on every resident of the state.
If the voters approve a constitutional convention, the outcome could be catastrophic – for you – the union member and public educator. Many of the fundamental rights that our predecessors worked to achieve: free public education, the right to collective bargain, prohibition of the reduction of public pension benefits could be taken away by the same elected officials who relentlessly attack our profession.
This important document performs three vital roles that are important to us, our families, and the school community we serve. First, the constitution establishes a basic organizational structure for state government. If changes are made that give too much power to one branch, for example the executive, then our system of self-governance will be upended.
Second, the constitution establishes the fundamental rights we enjoy as citizens of New York State and as public employees. Including:
The right to a free public education (Article 11, §1);
Prohibiting reductions in public pension benefits (Article 5, §7);
Rights to worker compensation (Article 1, §18);
Rights to be a member of a union and bargain collective (Article 1,§17), and
Requirements that the state provide for social welfare needs (Article 27,§1).
Third, the constitution sets the most important policy goals for the people of New York State, and thus, has an impact on every other law currently in place and on future statutes yet to come. For example, the 1967 convention was specially convened by an act of the Legislature a decade after the 20 year scheduled referendum was voted down in 1957. Following the 1967 convention, voters rejected the proposed changes which included proposed repeal to the “Blaine Amendment,” which prohibits the use of state monies to be used to assist religious and private schools. Had this proposal not been rejected by the voters, public education would look very different in New York (NYSUT).
More than ever before, we need to protect and preserve our constitutional rights in this state.
Do we trust today’s elected officials to rewrite our state constitution that has served us well for so many years? Do we want politicians, misconceptions, uninformed and misled voters to threaten the fundamental rights documented in the state constitution?
It is crucial that the CTA, CTAA, and CESA stay involved and cognizant of the issues and the threats to our livelihood. If we don’t protect it who will? We have to remain active in the political process. When we go to the polls on November 7, 2017, we must vote NO to the question: “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” as we are well aware of the disastrous ramifications of such a process.
For more information about the 2017 Constitutional Convention, refer to attached files under this article. It contains links to specific 2017 Constitutional Convention documents, including the Constitution of the State of New York as Amended and in Force January 1, 2015.
Clarkstown Teachers' Association