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Labor opposes New York State Constitutional Convention

By Corey Uhl |
November 6, 2017
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NYC workers on the picket line. (FightBack!News/Staff)

New York, NY - New Yorkers across the state face a vote on Nov. 7 on whether or not to have a Constitutional Convention, a process which occurs every 20 years. The last time a vote occurred for a so-called “Con Con” was in 1997. In the current political climate, unions and workers fear that all protections that were won in past Constitutional Conventions, most of which were gained during the New Deal, could be peeled away due to the intervention of lobbyists and financing from corporate influences.

One of the main concerns of bad amendments that could harm workers would be the possibility of New York becoming a ‘Right to Work’ state. Unions so far have aggressively promoted a no vote on the convention, since they do not have the monetary resources to outspend the corporate interests that no doubt would seek to stack the deck of delegates with their minions. Others see the convention as an opportunity for progressive gains to be made in a sweeping way, seeing the political structure of Albany as entirely too corrupt for change to be made.

The convention should be opposed for the simple reason that sweeping progressive change is unlikely. All that can be won must be won in the streets, through organized fight backs and contract fights. The last convention in 1997 came off the heels of a huge victory by the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters against United Parcel Service, which was led by New Yorker Ron Carey, who was standing president of the IBT at the time.

With so many important struggles for labor on the horizon (such as new contract negotiations between the Teamsters and UPS net year), leaving the door open for the bosses to undo decades of victories for workers at a constitutional convention - or worse still, weakening the position of unions by using resources to ensure a maintaining of present standards - rather than toward the needed organizing of struggles for better contracts and protections would be a misstep. A convention effort would waste the opportunity presented to unions to win all that can be won for the working class in the various shop floors, and for the attention of workers in taking charge of these fightbacks.