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The Pitfalls of a Privatized Safety Net

WHEREAS:

            Public service workers, including AFSCME members, provide a safety net for the most vulnerable members of society; and

WHEREAS:

            This safety net is designed to provide unemployment insurance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, welfare benefits, job training and job search assistance, health insurance and a wide range of other services to cushion the effects of periods of joblessness and to raise families out of poverty; and

WHEREAS:

            These programs are crucial in times of high unemployment, too few available jobs, and concerted attacks on the middle class. They help raise demand and output in a depressed economy; and

WHEREAS:

            Public sector workers, operating in a merit-based civil service system, act as “honest brokers” to match eligible citizens with safety net programs and have been shown to deliver programs efficiently and effectively; and

WHEREAS:

            Private sector provision of safety net services has produced disastrous results in many places, from expensive information technology problems in Indiana’s welfare program to wasteful spending in Wisconsin’s welfare program; and

WHEREAS:

            Private sector providers of safety net services often have perverse financial incentives, for example, incentives to keep eligible citizens off the welfare or SNAP rolls and thereby cut program costs at their expense; and

WHEREAS:

            Private sector firms, such as Maximus, Inc., are eager to take jobs away from public sector workers and threaten high-quality services by reducing wage and benefit standards in the social services field. Non-profit and for-profit entities providing safety net services often pursue a “low road” of low wages and benefits or seek to rely excessively on automation.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME will continue to fight to keep safety net programs publicly provided, to help vulnerable citizens and to protect workers, taxpayers, and the integrity and purpose of safety net programs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME will continue to organize workers providing safety net services and to ensure that wage and benefit standards are sufficient to recruit and retain a high-quality workforce to provide these services; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME will continue to bring attention to the many documented cases in which outsourcing safety net functions led to higher costs and reduced services; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:

            That in cases where safety net or social services are provided by non-profit or for-profit entities, AFSCME will organize these workers and bargain for appropriate wages and working conditions to close the “low road” which some non-profit and for-profit firms pursue.

 

SUBMITTED BY:
Todd, Singer, President
A. Jane Gill, Secretary and Delegate
AFSCME Council 13
Pennsylvania

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