[Ct-nfb] Legislative Alert from National Convention

Sigman, Brian Brian.Sigman at ct.gov
Thu Jul 7 12:16:10 UTC 2011

Hi Lucia- I wanted to be sure you were also aware that the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (representing all public VR programs for people who are blind) has also taken a stance in opposition of the sub-minimum wage language.

From: ct-nfb-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:ct-nfb-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of llee at nfbct.org
Sent: Wednesday, July 06, 2011 2:52 PM
To: NFB of CT list serve
Subject: [Ct-nfb] Legislative Alert from National Convention

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] 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 Alert

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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