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Resolutions & Amendments

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

Contracting Out

Resolution No. 92
26th International Convention
June 18-22, 1984
San Francisco, CA


State and local governments have rushed to contract out public services to profit-taking middlemen in recent years. "Privatization" has been promoted as the panacea for budget problems. However, the on-the-job experience of AFSCME's one million members has clearly shown that contracting out has serious shortcomings; and


The contracting out of government services to profit-taking middlemen often results in higher costs and reduced quality and efficiency. It is inevitably accompanied by a lessening of public control, and there are documented cases of crime and corruption associated with contracting out; and


The Reagan recession, coupled with increased foreign competition in many markets, has caused many private firms to look increasingly to the public sector for new sources of profits. At the same time, state and local governments have had their revenues cut by recession, and in some places property tax cutting initiatives, such as Proposition 13 in California and Proposition 2½ in Massachusetts. In addition, President Reagan has shifted many federal responsibilities to state and local governments while cutting back federal aid to these governments; and


Contracting out to profit-taking middlemen is frequently used to hide the inadequacies of public officials who can't manage their own departments. State or local governmental agencies with skilled managers should be able to achieve the same kinds of savings and efficiencies that good private managers achieve — without the added problems that contracting brings; and


Profit margins taken by middlemen drive up the cost of public services for tax payers; and


Affiliates threatened with contracting out must gather cost comparison information, and background data on the potential middlemen, publicize this information and the other arguments against contracting out, build coalitions with community groups, and lobby public officials. AFSCME has conducted a nationwide campaign to educate public officials who make the decisions on contracting out and to make the media aware of the danger of contracting out. In addition, all local union members must be aware of the tactics available to fight contracting out; and


If management's motivation to contract out is genuinely based on a desire for more efficient services, AFSCME councils and locals should be consulted on ways to increase productivity and improve working conditions. Through better tools, training and teamwork, tax dollars can be saved without contracting to outside middlemen.


That AFSCME reaffirm its opposition to the contracting out of any public work which has traditionally been performed by public employees. That AFSCME locals and councils continue to resist such efforts by pointing out to the employer and the public the real cost and disadvantages of contracting out. That the International union will continue to be a clearinghouse for information and to provide assistance to affiliates facing this problem; and


That all AFSCME locals and councils continue to negotiate appropriate safeguards and protections against contracting out, and to use other tactics, such as cost comparison studies, publicity campaigns, lobbying, education activities, community coalitions and legislation to restrict the contracting out of public services to profit-taking middlemen.


Jason Justice, Jr., President
Nancy Martinez, Recording Secretary
Local 1624
Austin, Texas

Ronald C. Alexander, President-Elect, Delegate and
International Vice President
Columbus, Ohio