Friday, September 15, 2017

New York State Constitutional Convention Opinion

On November 7, 2017, New Yorker voters will be asked if the state should hold a convention to re-write the New York State Constitution.  Such a convention could cost taxpayers over 300 million and could allow devastating changes to our constitution. Who is driving this idea & why?

Those in favor site the need for ethics reform and limits on gerrymandering while those against question the wisdom of opening the constitution up to alteration by the same corrupt big money players that currently hold the public good hostage in Albany.  Well-financed pro-convention groups are trying to dominate the early discussion and mislead voters with false advertising claims that this will be a “people’s convention”.  

There is currently a process in place to change the NYS Constitution that has been used over 200 times since 1984. The state legislature creates referendum questions for the ballot during general elections and citizens decide.  A number of ballot questions were voted on in 2013 including the constitutional change needed to build the Del Lago Resort & Casino in Waterloo. When a process to change the constitution currently exists why risk giving entrenched politicians and big money influencers access to alter constitutional protections for workers, the environment, women, minorities and schools?

The Adirondacks Mountains are protected by a ‘forever wild’ clause in the constitution. Lobbyists say that those protections are ‘unlikely’ to be altered. Frankly, ‘unlikely’ is not good enough when we see federal parklands being sold off, mined and privatized.   The constitution also protects public education and the right for working people to organize and collectively bargain.  Women & LGBTQ people should be concerned about the introduction of “Religious Freedom” clauses and the use of tax funds for religious schools. Gun control, women’s reproductive rights and protective tax limits for the wealthiest would be on the table.    

A constitutional convention is ripe for abuse. It’s a financial boondoggle enabling system-savvy politicians to make up to an extra $80,000 annually on top of the salaries they already receive.  There is no timeline to complete delegate work or limitations on who they can pay to “assist” them. Taxpayers will get stuck with the tab.  The money spent on a Constitutional Convention would be better spent investing in our schools, our crumbling infrastructure and vital public services. 

Survey data has shown that when voters are presented with the facts regarding a constitutional convention, they overwhelmingly oppose it.  I hope you will too. 

Bess Watts
President – Pride at Work AFL-CIO, Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter
Published in the June 2017 Issue of the Empty Closet

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Constitutional Convention Vote NO

On November 7th vote NO on the New York State Constitutional Convention.  You can change the constitution without having a convention. It's been changed 200 times in the last 100 years through legislation - only 6 times with a convention. Why pay over $300 million in taxpayer dollars when we already have a process that works? In either instance - people get to vote on the changes. In 1967, the last time we had a convention, the voters voted DOWN the recommended changes. Waste of money and time when money is better spent on infrastructure and jobs.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Rochester Pride Parade & Festival

Over 12,000 people cheered from the sidelines as Pride at Work and the labor community joined almost 130 groups in the Rochester Pride Parade.   The crowd was in awe watching the Teamsters Truck drive along the route.  One child thought the truck was “Optimus Prime” and he became so excited he cried! 

After the parade, the community gathered at Cobbs Hill Park for the annual festival where we shared resources and relevant information about the current events happening in our working world.   The signs “Queer Workers Resist” were especially popular with the crowd.

Kendall and Dawn working the table at the Festival

Friday, July 7, 2017

March with Labor in the Pride Parade

WHEN: Saturday, July 15, 2017 at 12:00pm

WHERE: Find the Teamster's Truck on Park Avenue and Alexander

Please join Pride at Work and the  Labor Community by marching in the Pride Parade on Saturday, July 15th at Noon with kick off at 1:00. We will be with the Teamsters Truck on Park Avenue and Alexander. Members love to see their Union in the parade so be sure and bring your Union banner or wear your Union shirt. The theme this year is "Summer of Love" so go wild and 'hippie' up your outfit.   

If you have any questions please email Bess Watts at

Monday, June 5, 2017

Buffalo Dyke March

Bess Watts, President of our chapter, had the opportunity to speak at the rally and work the information table with the Buffalo Chapter of Pride at Work at the annual Buffalo Dyke March on June 3rd.  It was a wonderful diverse and inclusive event.  

Bess Watts with Susan Woods, President of the Buffalo Chapter

Buffalo Dyke March believes that in response to our community’s and country’s uncertain future, we must build an expansive progressive movement. Our movement must make visible the vulnerabilities that reflect the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, class oppression, immigrant oppression, climate denialism, ableism, transphobia, islamophobia, and we must speak up for all victims of bigotry. As we experience a newly emboldened Far Right attack on our LGBTQIA community, we know that the only path to survival and resistance is for oppressed peoples to reach out to one another, to collaborate together, and to publicly express solidarity with each other at every possible turn. 

Bess speaking at the rally

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Constitutional Convention Training

If you're a Union member and want to learn about how a Constitutional Convention can impact you and your family, sign up for training on May 24th.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Pride at Work reacts to Executive Order

For Immediate Release
May 4, 2017

Contact: Jerame Davis -

Pride at Work Reacts to Religious Exemptions Executive Order

Washington - The White House, today, issued an executive order aimed at expanding
so-called “religious liberties.” While this order seems to back away from the anti-LGBTQ
provisions of the previous draft, the order will still provide cover for businesses that do
not wish to provide birth control to their employees and will make political speech
by churches and other religious institutions easier. Pride at Work executive director,
Jerame Davis, issued the following statement in response to the order:

“The changes in this executive order since the previous draft leaked are a strong
indication that the White House realizes that LGBTQ discrimination is not palatable
to the vast majority of Americans. While the worst anti-LGBTQ provisions were removed,
some pretty awful stuff remains that will impact our community.

“Reproductive healthcare decisions should not be dictated from the White House nor any
employer. Make no mistake - this executive order is a direct attack on women. Trump’s
plan to allow businesses to deny coverage of contraceptive care under the guise of
so-called religious liberty is a slippery slope. We are not a theocracy, but it appears
some in this Administration are eager to continue the slow creep toward that goal.

"Freedom of religion is a fundamental bedrock of our nation’s values. The First
Amendment to the Constitution protects our right to believe and worship freely. This
freedom is foundational, but it is not above all others. We will not stand by while this
Administration thumbs their nose at the Constitution and takes away our rights to
satisfy a narrow view of religion.

"Our constitutional right to practice our religion freely does not allow us to impose that
belief on others, to cause harm, to discriminate. It is designed to protect everyone’s
rights, not the rights of a few.

“Trump’s plan to give religious institutions a pass to enter the political fray is fraught
with danger. Churches should not be empowered to run campaigns against
LGBTQ people, women’s healthcare, and more without putting their tax exempt
status in jeopardy. That’s a violation of the founding principle of separation of
church and state.

“We will fight this shameful executive order with every tool at our disposal."


Pride At Work organizes mutual support between the organized Labor Movement
and the LGBTQ Community for social and economic justice. We seek full equality
for LGBTQ Workers in our workplaces and unions and we organize in the spirit
of the union movement’s historic motto, “An Injury to One is An Injury to All.”
Learn more at