Says Disability Scoop about Tuesday’s protests:
Members of the National Federation of the Blind are holding “informational protests” outside the district offices of members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday….
Tuesday’s events are designed to urge senators to reject a proposal that would outline the circumstances under which people with disabilities could be employed at less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, organizers say.
“Unequal pay for equal work on the basis of disability is unfair, discriminatory and immoral,” said Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind.
The Senate committee is expected to consider the proposal covering so-called subminimum wage next week as part of a reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act.
Members of TASH, the National Down Syndrome Society and other disability rights advocates have been speaking out against the proposal which, they say, “creates several loopholes that may put more youth at risk of being placed in sheltered workshops and earning below the minimum wage.” The guidelines are not really safeguards, but could end up giving sheltered employment providers a “checklist to meet in order to deem people with disabilities eligible for subminimum wage jobs.” The proposal could indeed have the result of increasing the number of those with disabilities employed in low paying environments.
However, some disability organizations including The Arc support the proposal, saying that the fact that it creates guidelines for a “system that currently has little oversight” is welcome.
The proposed legislation is not only in direction contradiction to the ADA, but also sends the message that individuals with disabilities are worth less in the workplace and, indeed, are simply worth less. Last month, Philip Davies, a Tory MP from Shipley in the UK made a similar proposal that disabled people be paid less than the minimum wage, to increase the likelihood of them getting a job. Employers, said Davies, could hire individuals with disabilities and then, after seeing if they might be as “productive as those without a disability,” consider moving “up the pay rates. ”
Davies’ remarks sparked a public outcry — “backward anti-disabled rhetoric,” wrote Lucy Glennon in the Guardian. A petition demanding an apology for disabled Britons has gotten over 17,000 signatures and got petition has also gotten the attention of Davies, who wrote to Care2 and demanded that the petition be taken down.
Here in the US, we also need to take action and tell the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the proposal for a subminimum wage for workers with disabilities is discriminatory. As an ad the National Federation of the Blind ran in The Washington Post says,
“Unequal pay for equal work on the basis of disability is unfair, discriminatory and immoral.”
It’s hard to believe that, even as we’re celebrating the ADA, one of its core principles — that individuals with disabilities have the right to equal access and accommodations in all areas of the public and private sector — is being challenged and even threatened. Please take action and tell the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the proposed legislation puts workers with disabilities in danger of being exploited and violates the rights of individuals with disabilities under the ADA.
In the words of disability activists: “Nothing about us without us.”
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Read more: accommodations, ada, aspergers, autism, civil-rights, developmental disability, disability, discrimination, employment, idea, mental health, minimum wage, mp, pdd-nos, philip-davies, special needs, wheelchair, workers
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