Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
Timeline History: 1960-1979

Federal Aid to Dependent Children changes to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

As agricultural surpluses reappeared in the 1950s, Congress considered legislation to reinstate a food stamp program. A pilot food stamp program was started under President Kennedy in 1961 and made permanent with the passage of the Food Stamp Act of 1964 under President Johnson. The stated purpose was "to raise levels of nutrition among low-income households," and "to promote the distribution in a beneficial manner of our agricultural abundance."

In 1961, the anniversaries of 2 significant Wisconsin firsts were marked: the 25th anniversary of the payment by the state of Wisconsin of the first unemployment compensation check and the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the first modern state Workmen's Compensation act. On August 31, 1961 in ceremonies hosted by President John F. Kennedy on the south lawn of the White House, the Wisconsin Worker's Compensation law was commemorated with a 4-cent stamp to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its enactment as the first worker's compensation law in the nation.

Text of President Kennedy's speech.

1961 Additional Commissioner:
Carl E. Lauri (1961-66)

President John F. Kennedy

WC Commemorative Stamps
WC Commemorative Stamps

U.S. Manpower Development and Training Act. MDTA in Wisconsin was administered by the Wisconsin State Employment Service. The Act began providing federal financial support for job training programs for the first time.


Wisconsin passed legislation to require buildings to be accessible to persons with disabilities.


Governor: John W. Reynolds

Additional Commissioner:
George W. Otto (1963-65)

Wisconsin is the first state to outlaw job discrimination on the basis of disability.

Open housing law was passed, and guaranteed all persons equal opportunity for housing, regardless of race, religion, color, national origin, or ancestry.


Warren Perley Knowles

Additional Commissioners:
Gene A. Rowland (1965-67)
Joseph C. Fagen (1965-70)
Edward E. Estkowski (1966-71)

Wisconsin Outlaws Job Discrimination on the Basis of Disability

The Kellett Commission studying organization of state government recommended consolidating labor-related functions and creating the Department of Industry, Labor & Human Relations (DILHR) from the old Industrial Commission.

The Governor's Commission on Human Rights was merged into the new department's Equal Opportunities Division. The State Equal Rights Council also was created, and migrant labor camp regulations was transferred from the State Board of Health to DILHR's Safety and Buildings Division.

The Equal Rights Council was given the responsibility to hear racial discrimination complaints in light of federal civil rights legislation.

In 1967, the new Department moved to its new location at the Hill Farms State Office Building. There were 1353 employees and a budget of $7.4 million.


DILHR's Equal Rights Division has the responsibility to hear racial discrimination complaints

Wisconsin became the first state to have a successful Work Incentive (WIN) program in every county. DILHR administered the WIN program, becoming one of nine states that implemented this program. WIN was a precursor to Wisconsin Works or W-2. WIN had AFDC training and employment participation requirements, sanctions for those who didn't participate, day care subsidies and other support services for those who participated. Some of the same principles of W-2 were implemented in the earlier WIN program and potentially set the stage for Wisconsin's welfare reform.


Additional Commissioners:
Charles B. Arnold (1968-69)
Joseph R. Kautzer (1969-72)

DILHR Job Mobile Unit
DILHR Job Mobile Unit

Wisconsin was one of two states (the other, Massachusetts) to enact uniform relocation laws to protect persons displaced by public projects, regardless of funding source.


State's oil inspection responsibilities were transferred from the Revenue Department to DILHR's Safety and Buildings division.

The Governor issued an executive order requiring the employment of apprentices on state or state-assisted construction contracts.

The requirement for curb ramping were added to municipal law for state statutes. This was a major change that enabled people with mobility limitation to achieve much more independence.


Governor: Patrick Joseph Lucey

Additional Commissioners:
Phillip W. Lerman (1971-75)
John C. Zinos (1971-77)

DILHR created the Division of Employment Security that merged the State Employment Service and Unemployment Compensation Division.

Apprenticeship Division begins requiring affirmative action and hiring goals for minorities for all apprentice employers.


Additional Commissioner:
William A. Johnson (1972-77)

In November, DILHR moved to its present headquarters at 201 East Washington Avenue.

GEF-1 State Office Building

Mobile Home Advisory Committee created.

The U.S. Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Provides legal support for non-discrimination. Creates the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.

Creates Client Assistance Programs.

U.S. Comprehensive Employment & Training Act (CETA).


DILHR's Employment Security Division became the first in the nation to adopt the name Job Service.


Congress extends Food Stamp Program to all states.

Wisconsin's wage and hours laws were expanded to cover adult males.

Wisconsin became the first state in the country to create an Office of Refugee Services to coordinate state services for refugees.

DILHR created a Native American Initiative to provide better employment services to Indian Reservations and urban Indians living in Milwaukee. (1975-1977)

U.S. created the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement to oversee program established by Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.


Wisconsin concluded more than 60 years of job safety inspections in private industry when legislation was passed eliminating matching funds for enforcement of federal standards under the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Wisconsin continued to enforce occupational safety and health codes for public employees.

Farm Workers in Field
Farm Workers in Field

Additional Commissioner:
Virginia A. Hart (1975-77)

Apprenticeship Division amended rules to require affirmative action efforts to include women. 1976

Women Fire Fighters
Women Fire Fighters

The Wisconsin legislature changed the administrative structure of DILHR by creating a single executive officer, known as a Secretary replacing the 3 member Industrial Commission which was re-created as the Labor and Industry Review Commission

Manpower Services Division formed in DILHR to administer programs under CETA, the U.S. Comprehensive Employment & Training Act.

Congress reenacted the Food Stamp Act with substantial benefit increases.


Martin James Schreiber

First Cabinet Level Secretary:
Zell S. Rice (July 1977-Jan. 1979)

Zell S. Rice
Zell S. Rice

Title VII was added to the Rehabilitation Act. This resulted in the first independent living centers in Wisconsin in 1980.


DILHR's crime victims compensation program was transferred to the State Justice Dept.


Lee Sherman Dreyfus

Joseph N. Noll
(Jan. 1979-Aug. 1981)

Joseph N. Noll
Joseph N. Noll

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