By Artie Townsend, retiree activist

On Election Day, November 7th, it is imperative that voters remember to flip the ballot and vote on the three proposals listed there.

I’m urging everyone to flip the ballot and vote no on Prop. 1, which asks if voters want to hold a state constitutional convention. If a convention is held, it could open the door for attacks on our state pension system, workers’ compensation, public education, environmental protections, and many other rights.

I am a proud union retiree, having been active with CSEA during my years working at Middletown Psychiatric Center and continuing my activism with the CSEA Orange/Ulster/Sullivan Retiree Local 917. Over the years, as CSEA members, we saw attempts to gain access to the money in our state pension funds. It happened during Mario Cuomo’s administration and again during George Paraki’s tenure.

It is naive to think that a state constitutional convention will be anything other than open season on state retirees and current workers’ hard-earned pension money. As CSEA retirees, we’ve seen our union brothers and sisters in Rhode Island, Illinois, Wisconsin and other states have their state pension funds attacked. That’s why we’re not falling for the assurances we’re hearing from those pushing a convention. The majority of state retirees live on modest pensions from our well-managed state retirement system; hurting us as retirees would hurt our communities and the local economy.

The bottom line is that a constitutional convention is not worth the risk. The system has been rigged on a national level to favor the wealthiest few, who will no doubt finance the convention delegates of their choice. Meanwhile, we the taxpayers will be spending at least a $100 million – though I feel that estimate is low — financing a convention that could ultimately hurt us.

Please join me in voting no on Prop. 1.

Artie Townsend is a retiree activist from the CSEA Orange/Ulster/Sullivan Retiree Local 917. He previously served as local president. During his career, he served as vice president of the CSEA Middletown Psychiatric Center Local. He resides in Middletown, Orange County.

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Jessica Ladlee

Jessica Ladlee is the communications specialist for CSEA's Southern Region. A graduate of Boston University, Ladlee is an award-winning journalist who worked as a newspaper editor before joining the CSEA communications team in 2004. She is passionate about the opportunities unions provide for people to join the middle class, something her grandmother did as a Rockland County CSEA member over 50 years ago.

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