Good afternoon Sisters and Brothers of the Plainedge Federation of Teachers! I hope everyone is enjoying the first day of spring and looking forward to the warmer weather yet to come.
Although it may seem far away, the fall election season will be here before you know it. This year, there is one item on the ballot upon which the next 20 years of your pension stability may depend, whether or not to hold a constitutional convention. According to the NYS Constitution (Article 19, §2), every 20 years the people of the Empire State are asked a seemingly simple ballot question; “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” If the public decides to vote “yes”, then the entire NYS constitution is opened and subject to revision. As a public school educator and union member, you need to be very concerned about the possibility of a convention!
Should a constitutional convention occur, we would likely see changes to some of our most important environmental protections, laws which guarantee a child’s right to a free public education, and rules that govern the safety of workers in the workplace, in addition to the risk of seeing changes to our job security and pension reductions. Keep in mind that our right to form a union and collectively bargain is guaranteed under Article 1, §17 of the NYS Constitution, as well as our right to collect a pension that shall not be diminished or impaired (Article 5, §7). If a constitutional convention were to take place, it is very possible that language would be introduced which would reduce pension benefits for everyone who works in the public sector including police officers, firefighters, teachers, and all other state employees. Even currently retired state employees could see a reduction in benefits simply by making pensions subject to state income tax, thereby reducing a retiree’s pension by approximately 6-7 % depending on their income level.
Even though it may seem like a “no brainer” to vote NO on a constitutional convention, current polls indicate the almost 70 % of the public is in favor of having a constitutional convention. This means we must do everything in our power to educate ourselves on the negative impacts of a constitutional convention, so we can convince our family members, neighbors, and friends that they must also vote NO on November 7th, 2017.
Please see the documents below to learn more about the process of a constitutional convention along with the negative consequences. In addition to these documents, on Wednesday, March 22nd, the Plainedge Federation of Teachers, in conjunction with the Levittown United Teachers, will be hosting a forum during which NYSUT representatives will educate us about the imminent threat to our pensions. Please see the flyer below for the exact location and time of this important meeting.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the content of this newsletter, please do not hesitate to call or e-mail me in the PFT office. I look forward to seeing everyone at Wisdom Lane Elementary School in Levittown on Wednesday, March 22nd for our pension forum. In solidarity