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Resolutions & Amendments

26th International Convention - San Francisco, CA (1984)


Resolution No. 114
26th International Convention
June 18-22, 1984
San Francisco, CA


The Reagan Administration's hostile policy toward the poor has led to the proliferation of workfare, or community work experience, programs across the country. Thirty nine states to a greater or lesser degree now require recipients of general assistance, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and Food Stamps to work off their assistance payments by performing work in public and non-profit agencies. In some jurisdictions, even residents in shelters for the homeless are forced to work off the services they receive by performing work on public land and buildings; and


Workfare is a danger to the trade union movement. Its participants are forced into work that substitutes for, or replaces, work done by regular employees, or previously done by regular employees on layoff.

Workfare debases the work ethic by fostering involuntary and free labor; it forces participants to work without wages and without recognition as employees; it denies participants the right to join unions and all of the benefits won for regular employees through public employees union struggles; and it makes a mockery of the National Fair Labor Standards Act; and


Workfare is anti-poor, anti-female; and debasing to the dignity of needy persons. It is a hoax because it does not lead participants to placement into decent, unsubsidized jobs. It has been proven not to be cost effective. All too frequently, it is used to coerce the poor from applying for assistance, or remaining on the rolls; and


AFSCME Councils increasingly are finding that public officials are ignoring or circumventing regular worker protection provisions in state and federal laws which authorize the establishment of workfare programs. Even more disturbingly, in the instance of legal actions they have instituted, they are dismayed by the narrow, negative, and unsympathetic rulings of state courts.


That at the Federal and State levels, AFSCME take all appropriate measures to have the Congress and the state legislatures repeal any and all laws authorizing workfare programs; and


That AFSCME urges the Congress and its leadership to expand and enforce the laws that are intended to provide meaningful training and placement in unsubsidized jobs in the private sector to employable public assistance recipients; and


That AFSCME will use its resources to support other organizations who are working to abolish workfare.


Richard Markowski, President
Dennis Sheahan, Secretary
Council 48
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Nathaniel Smith, President
Mary Ann Reese, Executive Vice President
Richard Fahoome, Vice President
Local 345, Council 25
Detroit, Michigan

Shirley Levinsow, President
Local 1335, Council 76
Pueblo, Colorado