Few issues have demonstrated the power of working people than the come-from-behind win in defeating the New York State Constitutional Convention this fall. The constitutional convention is nothing more than a way for well-financed special interests to subvert popular will and take down key protections in our society: in public education; the environment, safe workplaces and more. Also at issue was retirement with dignity through the public pension system, as well as critical laws that level the playing field with collective bargaining rights.
In short, what was at stake were the many protections for working people won over the years.
We shut the door to these forces of austerity and greed!
A long list
The victory (No Con Con!) provides a roadmap for the labor movement, for it was the unity of our movement that won this critical vote. NYSNA joined forces with a long list of labor and community groups in this critical win: the NYS AFL-CIO, the NYC Central Labor Council, 1199SEIU, DC 37, CWA District 1, CSEA, NYS Professional Firefighters, TWU Local 100, UFCW Local 1500, Uniformed Firefighters, Writers Guild of America East, United Steelworkers District 4, PEF, Labor Religion Coalition, IBEW, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, and many, many more.
All our forces brought to bear
The clarity of message was critical in organizing this movement. It was not a “People’s Convention” but rather an effort by special interest lobbyists and corrupt politicians to take advantage of the system.
Our rights would be put at risk. The convention was a “no rules” forum, allowing for the removal of provisions for public safety, the environment and access to healthcare. Public employee pensions could be eliminated.
Hundreds of millions of dollars of New York taxpayer funds would be expended in the process of staging the Con Con, allowing entrenched politicians to improperly funnel money to supporters.
NYSNA as an organization gathered all our forces in this key fight: our leaders spoke out, giving clarity to that message. Staff echoed this message. Mostly significantly, our members took the “con” that is Con Con to meetings and door-to-door, with clear and passionate presentations. Their conviction to the issue was plain and translated into this very big win. They worked very hard, traveling to areas where support was weak, canvassing on weekends and after long work shifts. We hit our stride.
No turning back
This road map is a route to maximize our power.
Power towards what end? We must ensure that our children are not left with a legacy of demise and destruction. We must protect public institutions, take the profit out of healthcare, and advocate for our patients.
Working with a broad labor coalition, elected officials on board with our mission, and engaging the community is our way forward.