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Resolutions & Amendments

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

Computer Homework

Resolution No. 79
26th International Convention
June 18-22, 1984
San Francisco, CA


There is a growing trend among employers to have employees with computer terminals work in their homes instead of the office; and


Homework has historically been associated with worker exploitation because it is virtually impossible to enforce health and safety, wage and hour and child labor laws in the home. Abuses in these areas led to the banning of homework in several industries 40 years ago. The Reagan Administration is attempting to lift the ban in certain industries; and


Computer homework lends itself to piece rate, rather than hourly pay. It is difficult to take quality of work and other intangibles into account when pay is based on piece rate. Speedup has also been a recurrent problem with piece rate pay. These historic problems are compounded by the possibility of surveillance inherent in a computer terminal; and


Computer homeworkers will be isolated and, thus, less able to engage in concerted activity to resolve their common problems; and


Homework is generally portrayed as a panacea for the working mother. In reality it is often a nightmare, as women are forced to simultaneously juggle housework, child care and their homework, without the opportunity for social interaction that is provided in an office; and


Despite its many problems and potential for abuses, computer homework may prove beneficial to some workers in specific situations.


AFSCME opposes computer homework that is unilaterally imposed by management.

AFSCME urges councils and locals to proceed with caution in considering computer homework and to become familiar with its potential pitfalls.

If computer homework is to be instituted, it should be done initially on a trial basis for a specified period of time in the context of strong collective bargaining in which all aspects of homework are negotiable. Care should be taken to protect members against exploitation and unrealistic work standards. Periodic review and evaluation of the homework arrangement, with the option to discontinue it, should be part of any agreement.


Vivian E. Sommerville, President
Elizabeth W. McDonald, Secretary
AFSCME Local 2412, Council 24
Madison, Wisconsin