[Ohio-talk] FW: [Chapter-presidents] Victims of the Exemption

Barbara Pierce bbpierce at pobox.com
Mon Apr 22 18:34:29 UTC 2013

We discussed at the board meeting charities providing adult daycare for the
benefit of the families of people so completely disabled as to be unable to
work. In such situations the clients are not working or being trained but
simply being cared for.Read Anil's blog below to understand what happens
when managers claim that workers cannot work efficiently and then take the
benefits of the system for themselves. This is what we must change.


From: Chapter-presidents [mailto:chapter-presidents-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Lewis, Anil
Sent: Monday, April 22, 2013 12:43 PM
To: Affiliate Presidents; NFB ChapterPresidents discussion list
Subject: [Chapter-presidents] Victims of the Exemption

Victims of the Exemption

Submitted by alewis on Mon, 04/22/2013 - 11:24
Blog Date: 
Monday, April 22, 2013

By Anil Lewis

Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act exempts over three thousand
employers from paying their workers with disabilities the federal minimum
wage, allowing them to pay workers subminimum wages as low as three cents
per hour.  The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013 will
repeal this unfair, discriminatory, and immoral provision.  The employers
paying a subminimum wage argue that, once the Fair Wages for Workers with
Disabilities legislation passes, the increase in wages would create a
financial hardship that would force them to terminate employees or go out of
business.  This argument is an attempt to frame the employers as victims,
but instead highlights the perverse nature of the existing subminimum wage
provision authorized by Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Rather than adopting a proven successful business model in which workers
with disabilities are paid the minimum wage or more, subminimum wage
employers are exempted from being responsible creators of real opportunities
for integrated employment at competitive wages.
Subminimum wage employers cannot properly claim to be victims when they
receive revenue beyond the income generated from the actual productivity of
the worker with a disability.  These entities receive public funding,
charitable contributions, non-profit tax status, preferred contracts, and
more, all before their workers produce one product or provide a single
service.  The employers receive these benefits because they cultivate the
perception that they are performing a service to people with disabilities.
So although the employer argues that it is paying the worker based on
productivity (which is itself a fallacy), the worker is not being paid
consistent with all of the revenue being generated as a result of the
worker's participation.  It is important to understand that these employers
would lose this revenue, and the goodwill that generates it, if they
terminated their workers with disabilities. Therefore, it is very unlikely
that they would terminate employees who generate revenue through their mere
presence.  It is simply unfair for the subminimum wage employer to continue
to use the threat of termination of employees with disabilities to justify
their continued exploitation of this labor source.  
Moreover, it should be obvious that any business unable to remain lucrative
with public and private money constantly flowing into its coffers, while
paying the employees at least the federal minimum wage, should not be in
business at all.  The failure of such an entity would be the result of poor
management, not the payment of competitive wages or the incapacity of its
workers with disabilities.  Such shoddy operations should not be subsidized
by a federal law that allows the managers of these businesses to exploit
workers with disabilities by using them as a fundraising resource, as a
justification for the lavishing of federal largesse, and as sweatshop
Some subminimum wage employers feel they are excused from paying better
wages because workers with disabilities choose to work in this subminimum
wage environment and to receive Social Security and other public benefits to
subsidize their wages.  Working for pennies per hour or fully participating
in the workforce cannot realistically be considered a choice.  Society would
never consider establishing federal law that allows other American citizens
the choice to work for subminimum wages and collect public benefits, while
supplementing the employer's revenue with public funds.
It is important to understand that as long as we promote the illusion that
subminimum wage work is a job, we deny these individuals access to the
proper training, support, and opportunity to obtain real jobs at real wages.
The existing resources currently being used to keep these individuals in
segregated subminimum wage pseudo-work environments should be concentrated
on finding them real jobs that pay real wages, or on training them for such
Some still argue that there are those individuals who are so severely
disabled that they cannot be competitively employed.  New strategies evolve
every day that prove this statement to be false.  Many individuals with
significant disabilities, previously labeled unemployable by sheltered
workshops, have received job training from qualified professionals that used
innovative strategies to assist them in obtaining competitive integrated
employment.  And if there are truly individuals too severely disabled to
perform competitive work, it does not follow that employment at subminimum
wages is the best outcome for these individuals.  There is a better reality
that we can provide for these individuals than toiling away, day after day,
for pennies an hour.  
The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013 (H.R. 831), which
will phase out Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, has a phase-in
period and provides incentives to these businesses to adopt a new business
model that truly benefits the worker with a disability while allowing the
businesses to remain profitable.  It should be noted that many employers of
people with disabilities, including nonprofits that hold or have held
special wage certificates, have already changed their policies to pay their
workers the federal or state minimum wage or higher.  These entities are
still operating and in fact thriving.  Continuing to exempt employers from
paying workers with disabilities the federal minimum wage victimizes workers
with disabilities, not their purported employers.  
 <https://nfb.org/blognames/vonb-blog> VONB Blog

Sent from my iPhone
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