Welfare and Work, Public Sector Unions

St. Ronny, the man who gave California public employees bargaining power!

Two philosophies I heard advocated in the recent election are (1) Welfare recipients should be required to work, and (2) Jerry Brown gave us public sector collective bargaining during his term as Governor. I decided to do a little research.

I found that under the federal welfare reform legislation enacted in 1997 and signed into law by then President Clinton, known as the Personal Responsibility and Adult Work Opportunity Act, adult welfare recipients are required to enter into agreements with their State or County welfare department to commit to engage in approved work related activities as a condition of receiving welfare money.   Those activities are defined by each State Legislature. In California the Legislature has approved work, job training, vocational education and a few other similar activities as “approved work”. The State finances child care and transportation expenses so the welfare receiving adult has no excuse to not comply. Some exceptions exist, such as a single adult parent who must care for a disabled adult or parent.

As for the collective bargaining legacy left by Jerry Brown, it is interesting. The first piece of California legislation in this arena gave local government employees the right to organize and bargain collectively, and required the local agencies – such as cities and counties – to engage in collective bargaining. This legislation is known as the Myers-Milias-Brown Act, and it was signed into law in 1968 by then Governor Reagan, before Jerry Brown was Governor.

Brown did sign legislation bestowing this kind of organizing and collective bargaining right to state employees. That was ten years later, in 1978 – the State Employer-Employee Relations Act –  also known as the Ralph C. Dills Act.

If you want to look deeper for what might have started the public sector union and collective bargaining ball rolling, perhaps it was in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy issued an Executive Order granting federal employees’ unions the right to bargain collectively.

So, it seems that welfare recipients have been required to work since 1997. And that Ronald Reagan, not Jerry Brown, signed the first law giving non-federal public sector employees in California the right to organize and bargain collectively. That is what I found, if you have different information please share.


About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.