[nfb-talk] Fw: Contacting the ABC

Kenneth Chrane kenneth.chrane at verizon.net
Mon Mar 5 08:18:19 UTC 2012

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Australian Broadcasting Corporation" <anonymous at your.abc.net.au>
To: <kenneth.chrane at verizon.net>
Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2012 10:00 PM
Subject: Contacting the ABC

> Dear Kenneth Chrane
> This email provides a copy of your comments recently submitted to the ABC 
> via the online email form located on this webpage :
> http://abc.net.au/contact.
> Yours sincerely,
> ABC Audience & Consumer Affairs
> **IMPORTANT NOTE: Please do not reply to this message.  You are welcome to 
> submit any further comments you may have using the form available here - 
> http://abc.net.au/contact **
> __________________________________
> First name: Kenneth
> Surname: Chrane
> Email: kenneth.chrane at verizon.net
> Location: O/S
> Response Required: true
> Program: News On The Hour
> Program Date: March 5, 2012
> ABC Service\Network: ABC News 24
> ABC Recipient: ABC News & Current Affairs
> Subject: Letter From President Marc Maurer:
> Your Comments:
> February 23, 2012
> Dear United States Representative:
> I am writing to you in support of H.R. 3086, the Fair Wages for Workers 
> with Disabilities Act of 2011.  If you are already one of the cosponsors 
> of this bill, I thank you.  If you have not signed on as a cosponsor, I 
> urge you to do so as quickly as you can.  I am also writing to you 
> representing disabled Americans who are affected by subminimum wage 
> payments who want this bill to pass.  Furthermore, I am writing to you to 
> sound the alarm against those who say that they know better what to do for 
> the disabled than disabled Americans themselves.  They will tell you that 
> disabled Americans cannot speak for themselves and that they have taken on 
> "this burden."  They are trying to deny us our own voice in Congress and 
> we ask you to listen to the people, not to the self-appointed so-called 
> spokesmen of the people.
> The National Federation of the Blind and the growing list of over forty 
> other organizations of disabled Americans that support this legislation 
> are well aware that those of you who are cosponsoring this legislation or 
> considering doing so are receiving considerable pressure from 
> representatives of sheltered workshops and others holding special wage 
> certificates that allow them to pay less than the federal minimum wage. 
> You are being told that the workers who receive subminimum wages in the 
> sheltered workshop system have nowhere else to go, and that their lives 
> would be destroyed by H.R. 3086.  Those of you from Missouri, in fact, may 
> have received a piece of correspondence that asks, "Where will Sammy, 
> Patti, and Becky go when you eliminate their jobs?"  This flyer also 
> contains quotes from parents, siblings, and caregivers of sheltered 
> workshop employees, wondering what H.R. 3086 will mean for their loved 
> ones.
> Whatever the motives of the people behind it, the correspondence is based 
> on outdated ideas about the capacity of workers with disabilities and a 
> misguided commitment to an antiquated model of service to such workers. 
> Rather than participating in a constructive dialogue about what life will 
> be like for workers with disabilities, once the subminimum wage exemption 
> is phased out in three years as required by H.R. 3086, the workshops 
> choose to circulate correspondence meant to pull on your heartstrings, to 
> evoke your pity, and to promote low expectations.
> United States Representative
> February 23, 2012
> Page two
> The argument of the sheltered workshops is that some people, particularly 
> those with severe developmental disabilities, are simply unfit for 
> competitive employment.
> This is simply wrong.  To continue this practice when proven employment 
> strategies exist is inexcusable.
> We are also told that these individuals must be given a choice.  We are 
> all for freedom of choice, but true freedom of choice can only come with 
> unbiased and accurate information.  Do Sammy, Patti, and Becky know that 
> people like them are in fact working in competitive jobs?  Do they know 
> that services like supported employment are already available to help them 
> acquire and keep such jobs?  Do their parents, guardians, and loved ones 
> know this?  My experience tells me that they do not. Rather, they have far 
> more likely been told by sheltered workshop staff-who all too often share 
> society's low expectations for disabled people and have an obvious 
> conflict of interest-that Sammy, Patti, and Becky will never achieve 
> competitive employment and that the sheltered workshop is the best they 
> can hope for.  In short, what they have been told is neither accurate nor 
> unbiased.
> Despite the manipulative tone of the correspondence, however, it is fair 
> enough to ask what will happen to Sammy, Patti, and Becky and others like 
> them if this bill passes.  I believe that the answer to this question is 
> limited only by the spirit, ambition, and imagination of disabled workers 
> themselves, and by our willingness as a society to work hard to help them 
> succeed in their goals.  I believe that disabled workers can do far better 
> than receiving pennies per hour.  Under this bill, they will either earn 
> real wages in the workshops that currently employ them, or they will 
> receive the training and support that they need to obtain competitive 
> employment somewhere else.  Imagine for a moment that all of the 
> government and philanthropic resources that are currently supporting the 
> sheltered workshop system were redirected to finding real employment 
> opportunities for people with disabilities.  If they were, I suspect that 
> solutions as yet undreamt of would emerge to help such
> individuals succeed in competitive employment situations.
> The sheltered workshop industry has existed for over seventy years.  Many 
> argue that it is an acceptable status quo, which must not be changed.  We 
> reject this formulation.  Even if you believe that those of us advocating 
> against subminimum wages do not have all the answers, this is no excuse 
> for allowing the system to continue.  The current practice of paying 
> subminimum wages is unfair, discriminatory, and immoral, and no amount of 
> hand-wringing about what may follow it can change that.  Please do not 
> simply let inertia direct our course.  We are urging you and other willing 
> partners, including any from the sheltered workshop industry, to work with 
> us to find real solutions for people like Sammy, Patti, and Becky, rather 
> than shrugging your
> United States Representative
> February 23, 2012
> Page three
> shoulders and saying that the exploitation must continue because we as a 
> society will not expend the effort to come up with anything better.
> There was a time in our nation's history when African-Americans were 
> believed to have limited capacity and were fit only for slave labor on 
> plantations.  There was a time when women were thought capable only of 
> maintaining the family home, and thus were not even permitted to vote. 
> Fortunately we realized as a nation that it was bigotry and low 
> expectations that were defining the roles of African-Americans and women 
> rather than their true capabilities.  We realized, albeit belatedly, that 
> America would be a better nation if the true capacities of these citizens 
> were unleashed.  Americans with disabilities are now calling upon our 
> fellow citizens to realize that the soft bigotry of low expectations is 
> condemning workers with disabilities to near-slave labor, and that the 
> system that arises from these low expectations must be abolished.
> H.R. 3086 allows for a grace period of three years before sheltered 
> workshops and other nonprofit employers currently holding special wage 
> certificates must begin to pay their workers at least the federal minimum 
> wage.  This is plenty of time for sheltered workshops to study the 
> business models of similar entities that are already paying their 
> employees competitive wages and make adjustments to their own policies and 
> practices.  Meanwhile, policy makers can redirect resources to enhance 
> programs like supported employment, and create new solutions, to help 
> workers with disabilities transition to real work for real wages.
> As for freedom of choice: I am a person with a disability.  I have been 
> blind all of my life.  I know the pain and despair that comes with low 
> expectations and prejudice.  Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to 
> make real choices about my life and career, and to experience the joy of 
> the accomplishments that can only come through full and equal 
> participation in society.  I want Sammy, Patti, and Becky to have the 
> choices that I had.  If workers with disabilities truly want to stay in 
> the sheltered workshop that currently employs them, or a facility like it, 
> then no one will prohibit them from doing so.  However, if H.R. 3086 is 
> enacted, wherever they choose to work, they will receive real wages that 
> allow them to live fuller lives.  They will know the satisfaction of 
> receiving the equal pay for equal work that they deserve, in addition to 
> any satisfaction that they may receive from getting out of the house and 
> being among their friends.  They will no longer be dependent upon the
> resources of their loved ones or on public assistance in order to buy the 
> things they need.  They will have disposable income to spend in the 
> community, thereby contributing to our society and its economy.  They will 
> go from a subsistent existence to one in which they can enjoy taking in a 
> movie with their friends, an occasional restaurant meal, and all of the 
> other small pleasures of life that other American workers take for 
> granted.  They will become free people with real choices, not virtual 
> slaves with false ones.
> United States Representative
> February 23, 2012
> Page four
> On behalf of the National Federation of the Blind, the over forty other 
> organizations that support this bill, and the millions of disabled people 
> we represent, we urge you to join us in our effort to change the paradigm 
> of low expectations and kindly meant but devastating exploitation that has 
> too long dominated the lives of over three hundred thousand Americans with 
> disabilities.  We ask you to express the courage to support H.R. 3086 and 
> the creativity to seek solutions that allow Americans with disabilities to 
> become productive citizens.  I thank you for your attention to this urgent 
> matter.
> Sincerely,
> Marc Maurer, President
> -
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