Wednesday, October 11, 2017

NY Pride at Work Chapters Coming Out Against the Constitutional Convention

A JOINT LETTER FROM THE NEW YORK STATE PRIDE AT WORK CHAPTERS

National Coming Out Day, 2017

On November 7, 2017, a simple question will be asked of the citizens of New York State: “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend same?”

The answer we, as LGBTQ people and our allies, give to this 12-word question will have a huge impact on every person living in the Empire State and generations of citizens to come.

Those in favor cite 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 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 allow casino gambling in our State. 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.     

Would you, as a taxpayer, vote to allow the state’s debt limit to be increased? If you vote for a constitutional convention, you could be doing just that.

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, as well as being able to “double-dip” on their pension.  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.  We hope you will too, Vote NO on November 7th.

Rochester/Finger Lakes Pride at Work
New York City/Long Island Pride at Work
Eastern New York Pride at Work


Joint Statement in PDF Format

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 besswhat@gmail.com.




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.