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Resolutions & Amendments

29th International Convention - Miami, FL (1990)

Welfare Reform, Not Workfare

Resolution No. 128
29th International Convention
June 25-29, 1990
Miami, FL


Major federal welfare reform legislation was enacted in 1988 which requires that each state establish Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) programs for their welfare recipients by October, 1990. Although each state must provide a range of education, training and/or work programs under JOBS, states are given the flexibility to design a program which is punitive and simply forces welfare recipients to work in exchange for their grants or one that provides quality education and training to help recipients obtain decent employment; and


AFSCME endorses the development of quality state JOBS 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 programs (CWEP) 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


JOBS programs that rely heavily on CWEP and 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. CWEP 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 continue to work with state officials to develop and implement JOBS programs that truly assist welfare recipients to move from welfare dependency to real work and opportunity. These programs would rely on bona fide education and training programs and would prohibit the use of unlimited Community Work Experience Programs (CWEP) which are demeaning to welfare recipients and which displace regular public employment; and


That JOBS program services be delivered by public employees who are familiar with the needs of welfare recipients and that states do not contract out these case management and job assignment duties to private agencies; This contracting out not only makes the coordination of services difficult, it also results in the loss of promotional opportunities for workers in the public sector; and


That AFSCME work to ensure that state JOBS programs are adequately staffed so that our members who work in state and county welfare offices can deliver quality services to recipients without the constraints of overwhelming caseloads. States should also provide adequate training to workers who must take on additional duties.


International Executive Board