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Resolutions & Amendments

27th International Convention - Chicago, IL (1986)

Workfare, Welfare, and Job Opportunities

Resolution No. 47
27th International Convention
June 23-27, 1986
Chicago, IL


AFSCME strongly supports linking work to welfare. Thousands of our members work in the public assistance programs. Their jobs are not easy They deplore a welfare system that fosters dependency. They believe that recipients who are able to work should be helped to get and hold jobs that pay decent salaries in a process that does not endanger the jobs of regular public service employees; and


AFSCME believes that national policies and adequate federal support should be established that would permit states flexibility in crafting training, support, and job placement services suited to their particular needs without the imposition of federal mandatory requirements such as levels of recipient participation and the inclusion of community work experience in their programs; and


AFSCME endorses the development of voluntary programs that are designed to move public assistance recipients from dependency to work and opportunity such as those that have been established in Massachusetts, Maine, and Baltimore County. These programs would avoid the use of community work experience, or workfare. Instead, they would offer expert job search and job placement services to those employable recipients who are job ready For those who lack marketable skills, the programs would provide a range of optional skills training services and support, job development and job placement services that would lead them into unsubsidized jobs that yield an adequate standard of living; and


Workfare programs that would force recipients to work off their grants in work assignments in public and nonprofit agencies are a relic of a discredited past; and

Workfare is a bad deal for recipients, taxpayers, and public employees. It denies employee status to the participants and it does not enable recipients to develop skills that would qualify them for good jobs. It is not cost effective and it fails to end welfare dependency. And it has been found painfully by AFSCME members in a number of states including New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Iowa to result in the displacement of regular public service workers; and


Both the President's Task Force on Welfare Reform and the Subcommittee on Public Assistance and Unemployment Compensation in the House Ways and Means Committee are currently addressing the issue of breaking the cycle of welfare dependency.


That AFSCME urges the President and the U.S. Congress to forge a national policy that would encourage and financially support states in formulating programs that would truly assist employable public assistance to move from dependency to real work and opportunity; and


That AFSCME educate its members and the general public of the impact of these programs on our jobs, and organize to defeat the implementation of punitive "workfare" programs, and work toward the implementation of job training programs and programs that establish real jobs.


Herbert A. Ollivierre, President
Natalie Baker, Recording Secretary
AFSCME Council 93
Boston, Massachusetts

Women's Committees of Councils 24, 40 and 48

Irene Herron-Steeger, Chairperson
Council 24, Madison, Wisconsin

Marcella McCallum, Chairperson
Council 40, Madison, Wisconsin

Paula Dorsey, Chairperson
Council 48, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Joe Kreuser, International Vice President
President, Council 40
Madison, Wisconsin