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Resolutions & Amendments

28th International Convention - Los Angeles, CA (1988)

Welfare Reform, Not Workfare

Resolution No. 158
33rd International Convention
August 24-28, 1998
Honolulu, HI


Over 100,000 AFSCME members work in the public assistance system providing services to those on welfare. These members know what is wrong with the welfare system. They know that welfare programs do not provide adequate income to the poor and that most welfare recipients want off welfare but simply can't find a job that will support their families. Our members believe that welfare recipients who want 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 employees; and


AFSCME endorses the development of voluntary state welfare-to-work programs that are designed to move public assistance recipients from dependency to work and opportunity such as Massachusetts Employment and Training Choices (ET) Program. These programs would avoid the use of community work experience, or workfare. Instead, they would offer job search and job placement services to those recipients who are job ready. They would provide a range of training and education services to recipients who lack marketable skills. And they would guarantee adequate child care and extended medical benefits to help recipients make the difficult transition from welfare to work; and


Workfare programs that force recipients to work-off their grants at the minimum wage in public and nonprofit agencies are not designed to help welfare recipients, but rather to punish them. Workfare is a bad deal for recipients, taxpayers, and public employees. It denies employee status to the participants and it does not enable them to develop the skills they need to qualify 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, Wisconsin and West Virginia to result in the displacement of regular public employees.


That AFSCME urges the next administration and the U.S. Congress to forge a national policy that would encourage and financially support states to establish programs that truly assist welfare recipients to move from dependency to real work and opportunity. And that this policy would prohibit states from using federal dollars to operate unlimited community work experience or workfare programs as part of their welfare-to-work initiatives; and


That AFSCME educate its members and the general public of the impact on these programs on our jobs, and organize to defeat the implementation of punitive "workfare" or community work experience programs in favor of state welfare-to-work programs that are voluntary, provide bonafide education and training services, child care and transitional medical assistance and establish real jobs for welfare recipients; and


That AFSCME work to ensure that these welfare-to-work programs are adequately staffed so that our members can deliver quality services to recipients without the constraints of overwhelming caseloads.



The International Executive Board