[Ct-nfb] Legislative Alert from National Convention

Blindhands at aol.com Blindhands at aol.com
Wed Jul 6 22:17:27 UTC 2011

I would like to share what I wrote to Senator Blumenthal regarding this  
July  6, 2011 
Dear  Senator Blumenthal: 
I am  writing to you with my concern of  Section 511 from Title V  
of the  Workforce Investment Act (WIA).    Section 511  reauthorizes 
payment of subminimum wages to people with disabilities. It is  completely 
contrary to the purpose of the  
Rehabilitation Act, which is intended to promote competitive,  integrated  
I went blind 14 years ago suddenly  and had worked in the medical field  
prior to going blind.  I just  returned back to working and received my first 
pay check last week.  I am working at a job in New Haven  caining chairs and 
had been in a 6 month training under the Board of Education  Services for 
the Blind.  I was  receiving an hourly wage over the minimum wage through 
this work program.  I understood once the training was  finished I would be 
placed on a piece work wage.   
Last  week I received my first check off the training and I was paid by my 
piece work  rate.  For 5 hours of work I  received a total of $3.60.    I 
paid $12.00 for my 2 transit bus rides up to New Haven and back to my  home in 
This  is a true example of what this section will allow. 
Yours  Truly, 
Joyce  Kane

In a message dated 7/6/2011 2:52:27 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
llee at nfbct.org writes:

Hi all,
Beth Rival called today from the national convention. She asked that I  
re-send this legislative alert. We have received word that the  Health, 
Education, Labor & Pension (HELP) Committee will be voting on the  Workforce 
Investment Act next week. The HELP Committee plans to vote to  continue the 
practice of paying disabled people a subminimum wage as stated in  Section 511 of 
the Act. This Act does affect people all over the country, here  in CT also. 
There are disabled people in CT who work for subminimum  wages.Please read 
the following email from Anil Lewis and call Senator Richard  Blumenthal, 
who is on the committee,  to ask him to have Section 511  removed. His contact 
number is on the list following the email.

-----Original Message-----
From: _nfbnet-master-list-bounces at nfbnet.org_ 
(mailto:nfbnet-master-list-bounces at nfbnet.org) 
[_mailto:nfbnet-master-list-bounces at nfbnet.org_ 
(mailto:nfbnet-master-list-bounces at nfbnet.org) ]  On Behalf Of David Andrews
Sent: Monday, June 27, 2011 12:47 PM
To: _nfbnet-master-list at nfbnet.org_ (mailto:nfbnet-master-list at nfbnet.org) 
Subject:  [Nfbnet-master-list] Follow Up on Subminimum Wage Legislative  

from Anil Lewis (
_alewis at nfb.org_ (mailto:alewis at nfb.org) )?

Dear Fellow  Federationists,

Michael Barber reports that the NFB of Iowa has sent  over seventy 
letters to Senator Harkin, urging him to remove Section 511  from Title V 
of the Workforce
Investment Act (WIA). This bill will be  marked up and voted on 
Wednesday, June 29, at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time. If  your senator is on the 
Senate Committee
on Health, Education, Labor,  and Pension (HELP committee), please 
continue to write and call  regarding this issue.

Section 511 reauthorizes payment of subminimum  wages to people with 
disabilities. It is completely contrary to the  purpose of the 
Rehabilitation Act, which is intended to promote  competitive, integrated 

The following list contains  the names of members of the HELP committee. 
If your senator is a member  of the committee, please call his/her office 
to respectfully
express  your adamant objection to linking subminimum wage to the 
Rehabilitation  Act, and to insist that Section 511 of the Rehabilitation 
Act be  removed
from the bill. If your senator is not a member of the HELP  committee, 
call the committee chair (Senator Tom Harkin) and the ranking  member 
(Senator Michael
Enzi) to register your objection. Additional  background information on 
Section 511 follows after the HELP committee  list.


Anil Lewis
Director of Strategic  Communications
Telephone: (410)  659-9314, extension 2374
_alewis at nfb.org_ (mailto:alewis at nfb.org) 

table with 3 columns  and 23 rows



Senator Lamar  Alexander


(202) 224-4944

Senator Michael F.  Bennet


(202) 224-5852

Senator Jeff  Bingaman

New Mexico

(202) 224-5521

Senator Richard  Blumenthal


(202) 224-2823

Senator Richard  Burr

North Carolina

(202) 224-3154

Senator Robert  Casey, Jr.


(202) 224-6324

Senator Mike  Enzi


(202) 224-3424

Senator Al  Franken


(202) 224-5641

Senator Kay R.  Hagan

North Carolina

(202) 224-6342

Senator Tom  Harkin


(202) 224-3254

Senator Orrin G.  Hatch


(202) 224-5251

Senator Johnny  Isakson


(202) 224-3643

Senator Mark Steven  Kirk


(202) 224-2854

Senator John  McCain


(202) 224-2235

Senator Jeff  Merkley


(202) 224-3753

Senator Barbara A.  Mikulski


(202) 224-4654

Senator Lisa  Murkowski


(202) 224-6665

Senator Patty  Murray


(202) 224-2621

Senator Rand  Paul


(202) 224-4343

Senator Pat  Roberts


(202) 224-4774

Senator Bernard  Sanders


(202) 224-5141

Senator Sheldon  Whitehouse

Rhode Island

(202) 224-2921
table  end


The key legislation around the recent  Subminimum Wage legislative alert 
is the Workforce Investment Act (WIA),  specifically Title V, the 
Act, which is one of the  most important pieces of legislation affecting 
the lives of people with  disabilities. There is no bill number assigned 
at this
time, but we  have been provided the proposed draft language. On 
Wednesday, June 29,  the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, 
and Pensions  (HELP
committee) will be marking up the WIA reauthorization. So far, we  have 
been unsuccessful in our efforts to have Section 511 removed from  the 

As the Senate works to reauthorize the  Rehabilitation Act, a new section 
has been added, Section 511, which  links Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor 
Act (FSLA) to the  Rehabilitation Act. Section 14(c) of the FLSA is the 
law that allows  employers to pay subminimum wages to their workers with  
There are more than 5,000 entities that hold special  wage certificates 
allowing them to pay subminimum wages to more than  400,000 workers with 
Section 14(c) is flawed in its  implementation, and it has been plagued 
with abuse of employers paying  workers with disabilities even less than 
the subminimum
wage they are  entitled to receive as a result of this law. The Wage and 
Hour Division  (WHD) of the Department of Labor is charged with the  
of oversight, but they are only able to investigate 2  percent of the 
facilities a year. Many workers with disabilities have  not been able to 
collect millions
of dollars of back wages because  the statute of limitations has passed 
before WHD can identify the  violation.

Section 14(c) is simply unenforceable. We have fought  against this 
provision since the founding of our organization, and we  have made 
significant progress.
Section 511 threatens that  progress.

The language found in Section 511 is a restatement of  Section 14(c) of 
the FLSA, linking legislation that is supposed to  provide the training 
and support
for people with disabilities to  obtain competitive employment to 
legislation that asserts that people  with disabilities cannot be 
competitively employed.
The philosophies  are in direct conflict, and Section 511 sends a mixed 
message about the  purpose of vocational rehabilitation (VR).

Section 511 explains the  process a counselor would have to go through 
before referring a client  to a subminimum wage work environment. The 
intent is to
make it more  difficult for clients to be steered toward subminimum wage 
employment.  Unfortunately, the language opens a door to subminimum wage  
that did not previously exist. As a result of Section 511,  if VR fails 
to provide a client with the proper training and support to  become 
employed, they will be encouraged to make a  referral to a subminimum 
wage employer.

The language states that,  once placed in a subminimum wage work 
environment, the client should  receive a review every six months. 
However, similar to  WHD's
inability to enforce Section 14(c) of the FLSA, it will not be  possible 
for VR to properly enforce this law, leaving even more  individuals stuck 
in subminimum
wage jobs. A better use of the  inadequate funding potentially slated for 
enforcement of Section 511,  and the insufficient funding for WHD to 
enforce Section
14(c) would  be to develop creative rehabilitation strategies to 
competitively employ  all people with disabilities.

Many people have come to believe that  subminimum wage employment is an 
opportunity for people with  disabilities to experience the tangible and 
benefits of  work. We maintain that there is no benefit, tangible or 
intangible, to  working in an environment that asserts that you are not 
as good  as
everyone else. Industries have been built on this false perception,  
allowing people, who otherwise would be able to obtain competitive  
employment, to
be exploited at subminimum wages to bolster an  employer's profitability. 
The job market has changed drastically since  the initial passage of this 
legislation. With the proper  training and support, people with even the 
most significant disabilities  are able to be competitively employed.

We need to let members of the  Senate Committee on Health, Education, 
Labor, and Pension know that  Section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act 
should be removed
from the  reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act.


David  Andrews and long white cane Harry.
_david.andrews at nfbnet.org_ (http://david.andrews@nfbnet.org/) 
Follow  me on Twitter  @dandrews920

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