The New York State United Teachers union’s newsletter to members several months ago calls a potential constitutional convention a “Pandora’s Box” and urges members to get involved in an effort to oppose holding one.

The newsletter was released over the summer, but largely escaped notice at the time. It was amplified today on Twitter by Capitol Pressroom host Susan Arbetter

New York voters in 2017 are due to consider whether to hold a convention that could overhaul how state government functions — a potential enticing consideration given recent corruption scandals and concerns from upstate voters that too much power is vested in New York City interests.

But NYSUT raises issues with even the hint of altering New York’s system of governance, arguing that such a move could strip away bans on direct state funding of religious schools or infringe on pension benefits.

“If changes are made that give too much power to one branch, for example say the executive, then our system of self-governance will be upended,” NYSUT writes in the newsletter.

The last convention referendum, NYSUT’s newsletter states, was opposed by a coalition of “public and private organized labor” and environmental groups as well as good-government organizations “who worked together
to convince voters that holding a convention was not in the best interest of the people of the state.”

NYSUT raises the possibility the union will actively oppose the referendum in 2017 as well, or at the very least raise issues with an overhaul of the constitution.

“All of these groups, and more, will need to work together again in 2017 to make sure voters understand just what could happen if we open up the state constitution to drastic changes through a convention,” the newsletter states. “Since 2017 is an ‘off’ election year for the state Legislature as well as an ‘off’ election year for presidential voting, we will need to concentrate our efforts on this important issue.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address last month agreed the process in which delegates are selected for a constitutional convention is largely flawed and proposed a constitutional commission charged with devising a blueprint for overhauling the process.