On the 21st anniversary of a law that dramatically expanded disability rights, advocates are demonstrating across the country against a proposal that would set guidelines on when workers with disabilities can be paid less than minimum wage.
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.
The actions coincide with the 21st anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which greatly increased the rights of people with disabilities and ensured broad accessibility.
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.
Despite significant criticism from some disability advocates, others say that the proposal would offer needed protections for a system of sheltered workshop employment that currently has little oversight.