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Feds Seek Comment On Subminimum Wage Plan

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President Barack Obama speaks during a February event where he signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their workers at least $10.10 per hour. This week, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a proposed rule on the plan which would apply to federal contract employees with disabilities who were previously paid less than minimum wage. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

President Barack Obama speaks during a February event where he signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their workers at least $10.10 per hour. This week, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a proposed rule on the plan which would apply to federal contract employees with disabilities who were previously paid less than minimum wage. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

The Obama administration is moving forward with a plan to ensure that federal contract dollars no longer go toward paying workers with disabilities less than minimum wage.

Under a proposed rule published Tuesday in the Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Labor would raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers — including those with disabilities — to $10.10 per hour.

The change would effectively put an end to federal contractors paying workers with disabilities less than minimum wage, a practice that’s traditionally been allowed for employers who obtain special permission from the Labor Department.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama issued an executive order mandating the pay hike. After leaving workers with disabilities who earn so-called subminimum wage out of his initial proposal, Obama ultimately opted to include such individuals in the final version of his executive order under pressure from disability advocacy groups.

“If you work full-time, you shouldn’t be living in poverty,” Obama said at the time. “This executive order will cover Americans with disabilities because this principle doesn’t just apply to some of us, it applies to all of us.”

The Labor Department action this week opens Obama’s plan up for public comment through July 17. Regulators are then expected to issue a final rule on the matter by Oct. 1.

Under the proposal, the wage increase would apply to individuals employed under new federal contracts and replacements for expiring agreements starting Jan. 1, 2015.

The change is expected to result in a pay raise for nearly 200,000 workers, according to the Labor Department. Agency officials said they have no way of estimating how many of the workers are people with disabilities.

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Comments (39 Responses)

  1. Whitney says:

    “Well women should make less than men” = sexism discrimination

    “Whites should make more than other minority” = racism discrimination

    “I refuse to make less than a person who is disabled.” =disability Discrimination

    “It takes food out of kid’s mouth.” A boss said that once to a employee.

    Subminimum wages is the way that people exploit other people despite the level of intellect or cognitive ability. It is basically treating groups of people differently. Subminimum wage allows wage discrimination which disguise as kindness towards disability community.

  2. Terry says:

    In theory this sounds wonderful but I am concerned about the reality of it all. Sure, doing away with special minimum wage in federal contracts might help thousands but but but …How many will it hurt?
    My views are multi sided. I’m a sibling to an individual with has ID, vision, endocrine and orthopedic ailments. She wants to leave her adult training facility to work in a community rehab facility that pays piece rate. It’s not about the money, it’s about friendships, keeping busy and having the opportunity to cash a pay check—visiting the bank tellers and developing relationships. .
    2. I’m a production manager in a community rehab facility that pays piece rate and has 80 individuals with intellectual/physical/visual/mental health disabilities. 6% need one on one attention and 26% need close supervision because of medical or safety concerns. Of the remaining 68% about 6% have the desire and ability to be successful in competitive employment and are just waiting to find a job. Perhaps another 10% attend because their stress levels rose too high in competitive employment and were terminated several times. A lot would rather smoke, crochet or socialize rather than complete their work. We will NOT terminate anyone unless they were a severe threat to themselves or others. Working for piece rate is only a small part of why individuals attend CRP’s. I’m feeling lucky that we don’t depend on any federal contracts as I foresee a decrease or cease to any federal contracts being awarded to many CRP’s. Many of which depend on those contracts. There has got to be another solution!
    3. I’m a parent to an individual with moderate ID. He has 2 part time jobs. Good thing my husband is currently unemployed because he is our child’s transportation. Did I mention my husband is unemployed because of a diabetic flare up during his probationary period? (Wound on foot caused by steel tips took too long to heal). If employers can’t deal with that, how can we expect individuals with disabilities to keep jobs at or above minimum wage? At least a majority of the folks I know in the CRF are happy to be there. In addition, the local transportation provider is not reliable so in a sense, being unemployed is a temporary blessing. (just in!—local transportation provider info: just got a call from my brother who is our sister’s caretaker—our sister got left out of her day program at 2:30-3:00 and at 5:00 called me to ask for the transportation providers phone number because our sister was not home yet. He was informed that the driver was new, they were in the area and running late. She arrived home at 6:00. A 3 hour van ride to go less than 10 miles) Did I mention they were unreliable?
    Increasing the minimum wage only brings increases of everything and service for all of us. No one really wins! Perhaps changing the attitude of the workforce where people are concerned and dedicated to their employer and in turn employers take care of their employee’s. The attitude that you can be easily replaced is not in anyone’s interest. Neither is “what’s in it for me/you owe me coffee breaks, perks, and it’s your responsibility to do everything so I don’t have to think” attitudes. Maybe passing a MANDATORYTEAMWORK or COMPASION BILL would be a better place to start. Perhaps then more individuals with disabilities could keep their jobs longer than a few months. Yes. I vented a bit and went a little off topic. Obviously I am not for eliminating sub minimum wage but I am not for discriminating wages either.

  3. Whitney says:

    In a competitive field such as IT and yes some of the people are on the ASD spectrum. It does not make sense to pay people who can hack a computer system and alter the data architect sub-minimum wage. I do not think Sub-minimum wage would have been a big deal if the Job trainers did not apply it to high functioning disabilities. I do mean those who can work in full time and normal jobs that are not sheltered. Once you are label disabled that means automatically you should go into a shelter work program that pays subminimum. Part of the problem is the advocates did not bother or even listened to the high functioning disabilities and continue to funnel people who normally would not qualify for shelter work programs.

    “Why should I hire when non-disabled person needs the job more than you do. Government will provide the disabled you will not go hungry and you living housing.”

    I am hurting now. Oh I hear job coaches say “Quit being so selfish.” I can probably hack into a computer system it is simple thing to do. Why should I care about other people getting ahead. I am not.

    The cyber crime is going rise because some of the people who have ASD are getting shafted because of sub-minimum wage. It is there way of creating a revolution against NT. Society created a situation that insecure because we express ourselves and just get ignore. Getting people credit cards is really easy thing to do. Sub-minimum wage hurts us so much. It was decided that needs to go away and with 87% unemployment and 90% underemployment is the statistics we are looking at.

  4. Naajiya Blight says:

    I completely understand the employer’s perspective…..why should I hire someone who is disabled because it costs more money to have accommodations and more time for training…It’s completely understandable…I get it. However disabled people aren’t sick by choice…they had nothing to do with it…(for the most part) Paying a subminimum wage is not right…We all need to survive and with the inflation rate rising every year…there has to be a standard. A livable standard. Subminimum wages should be illegal….that’s discrimination…Doesn’t the ADA do something? Our President did the right thing….everyone should have that pay scale…$10.10 an hour

  5. Whitney says:

    I am disabled yes. I do not need any form of accommodation that would cost an Employer anymore than a non-disabled person. It is a perceptual bias. Nor do I need any extra training that is outside of the training I am currently getting.

  6. Cherie Johnson says:

    I applaud President Obama for making this policy inclusive. As the sister of someone with Spinal Bifida and a son with Autism. I think anyone who contributed to the labor force should be earning a living wage!

  7. trapper creek says:

    Without regard for the controversy surrounding whether to retain sub-minimum wages or not, I take offense by the suggestion that someone working for $10.10/hour is no longer “living in poverty.” True it may no longer be abject poverty, but $10.10/hour does not permit most workers to escape the perils of living in poverty. Let’s be honest and require our President to do the same.

    The push for $10.10 is a political, not economic, symbol of doing something right for America’s poor working class regardless of the presence or absence of a disability. It is only a small step in the right direction, not a solution.

  8. frannie v says:

    Another disaster for disabled people. These government contracts will now go to companies that do not employ disabled workers.Also, the cost of the contracts to the government will increase. Remember our government paying hundreds for a hammer.

  9. A. Ray says:

    It’s hard to argue against increasing wages working poor unless you know the entire story. For direct caregivers, I applaud the long-needed increase in pay as long as the President, Congress and all those voices of change remember to increase the reimbursement rates for providers and employers. I also can’t argue having an increase in wages for all those who can realistically work unless the financial qualifications for services are updated as well. If a person earns enough to become disqualified for Medicaid benefits but can’t replace those benefits, have their circumstances really improved? Mr. President… I say, get off the podium and solve both sides of the equation!

  10. Lanett says:

    Laskie; I believe no one should live below poverty level! Not even those of us who are disabled and can’t work; but didn’t earn enough to earn more than 734.00 a month! I worked but because of caring for a daughter that needed me; it was under the table. I still never earned more than enough to pay taxes. There must be a way to help people like me!
    Thank you’
    Lanett Laskie

  11. BonBon says:

    Once again we are not hearing the full story. We are forgetting that most people with significant disabilities are also receiving social security disability payments. Many also receive housing assistance. They are not “living” off the commensurate wage they are being paid. What they are receiving is meaningful work experience that may lead to a better paying job in the future. With a 70% unemployment rate among people with disabilities, I cannot understand why we want to eliminate a tool that offers those with the most significant disabilities a chance to work and receive job training.

  12. Paul Harvey says:

    Look at employment data on people with developmental disabilities. Look at very low employment and very few hours per week. Look at what many of those in this population have do do when not working. Look at percentage of those employed are in sub minimum wage group placements. Acknowledge that they unlike IRS management are paid based on productivity that is measured every 6 months and are paid based on their productivity rate times the going wage for the job they are doing – so just by raising the going rate a person in a sub minimum person will make more. The danger is will this reduce employment of people already severely underemployed. Also, SSI will be reduced at $1 for every $2 and amount they can have will remain $2,000? Also, for some this increase will disqualify them for low/low affordable housing and with some affordable house not flexible in their rates they will have to move — but to where as affordable housing is more of a concern than wage rate for so many.

  13. Margie says:

    This is not a simple situation and will not be resolved with a single brush stroke.

  14. Michael says:

    Terry- Thank you; you’ve hit on just about every point there is to be made.
    Whitney- the problem with your stance is that it is impossible for the sub-minimum wage program to fail if it is done right. An employer cannot ever pay a sub-minimum wage just because a person is disabled; by law, they have to be disabled to perform the job. A peson is declared to be disabled to perform the work when they cannot maintain a productivity level that, when weighed against a measured productivity standard, factored against the prevailing wage for that work to be performed, falls below minimum wage. So for example, if the prevailing wage is $10, and the person performs 75% against the standard, they would be due $7.50 an hour, which exceeds the federal minimum wage (unless the work is performed in a state with a higher minimum wage. With regards to piece work, if a person performs 100% of the standard for production, they would end up being paid over mimimum wage, because the piece rate is determined not off of minimum, but of an experienced worker. If the standard is 100 widgets for $9 in wage, is it fair to charge the business $9 in wages for 25 widgets? How about 2 widgets? Its easy for people to beat up on business, but its just not possible to impose that on businesses, so they will not employ people with disabilities, and there you go. So, in your case, maybe you have a legal case against your employer if they are paying you less than the prevailing wage for 100% of the work, but we don’t blow up a system that enables every single American the potential to engage in work because of the extreme advocates parading the worst examples of the implementation of this program. What the government has to do is give the DOL more money to provide more support to their certificate holders to learn to do this program the right way than to fear monger.

    I have had the opportuntiy to speak with several state and federal legislators about what the root problem is here- we have got to have a conversation at the national level that identifies that the needs of people with I/DD are different in significant but not all parts from the general disability lobby. A veteran could return home with the loss of limb and vision, as one example, and still lead a company or a country, but a person with a mental age of 2 year old has to have other considerations. Besides, this advocacy declares a person with a disability as being “successful” or not whether they are employed or not. In Terrry’s example, i don’t think its okay either that a capable person “chooses” not to work and stay home and play X-box while we all work to fund it, but that’s the exception. People with I/DD should first be cherished for being here, and then we work with them where they are, and support their maximum level of independence.

  15. Innerpeace says:

    A Human Being is a Human Being, a disability is part of who that person is not the whole person. I have been a advocate for years and am proud mother of two adults with involved disabilities and guess what,they
    could each contribute something to a work place. When are all these groups go to start looking at what a person can do and not what they cannot do!!! Everyone need some additional training some times and we need to stop nickel and dimeing this issue. Big money is made in disabilites with little and sorry results in many cases.I work in the field of disabilties and volunteer at a day program teaching sign language to ALL the individuals and guess what. Every single individual response to me because I am teaching them something.
    wheither they hear or not, even people with CP see me coming and smile. All people want to learn and suceed in life but some cannot tell you themselves. Give people with disabilies their fair wage and rights and you would be surprised what you will see.

  16. Terry says:

    This debate tears at my heart, on one side I do believe that everyone should make a livable wage, however I as a non-profit can’t even afford to pay my job coaches a livable wage, as a fact I don’t either. I understand that everyone who wants to work in the community should have that option, that no one should be put in a sheltered environment unless they or their parents/providers/guardians what it. Some of the folks that I work with have tried community employment and DO NOT want to go back of a variety of reasons, and it should be their choice. Through productivity ratings individuals earn based on their own production standards which are clearly defined in governmental rules. Some individuals work at levels of 1% please tell me an employer who will pay an individual minimum wage for 1% productivity.So if everyone has to make a livable wage what happens to those individuals with the most significant disabilities? The individual is sent to sit at home, or maybe if a carve is obtained then it might be for an hour or two per week. Some agencies feel successful by moving an individual with significant disabilities into the community from a sheltered environment. Sheltered they were out of their homes at least 5 days a week 4 or more hours per day, community employed they are out an average of 2 hours per week. Unless this is truly what the individual wants I do not see this as a success story.
    Business are in business to make money first and foremost, if they don’t make money they close, then what?? Each person should have a choice of their work environment, they should be able to choose community or sheltered. I think all I am saying is that every person should be able to say where they want to work, even if the wage is based on productivity and may be sub-minimum. If we are truly advocates, we do not tell people where to work we support them where they want to be at this minute.

  17. MarshaRose Joyner says:

    This is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rghts Act, the most inclusive legislation ever.
    Included in the Act for the first time are persons with bisAbilities. That was 50 years ago and we are still discriminating against people who are not ablebodied white males. Paying people Subminimum wages in an economy which is well above minimum wage in not only discrimination it is unhumane.
    Subminimum wages is pro business profits.

  18. Gail says:

    I am a small business employer and just hired a young adult who is on the Spectrum. The thought never occurred to us to not pay him a fair wage, let alone minimum or, worse, sub-minimum. This is the right thing to do. I hope Congress agrees.

  19. Jon K. Evans says:

    ALL WAGES AND PRICES SHOULD BE CUT-NOT JUST PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. Although the Disabled community is paid at third world wages-or less, the real culprit is universal greed-on both labor and industrial or management sides.

  20. Adam says:

    I am an individual with unique abilities not disabilities for me in this world money does not matter to me yes I get a paycheck from the government I also get paid minimum wage at a local retail store in my local town but all in all if President Obama were to raise the minimum wage for everybody honestly i wouldn’t care because these days in time are all about money and greed and it should not be like that I run a non-profit organization that supports the local autism community money does not matter for me I could live a happy life being on the street or living with one of my friends but it all comes down to that this world is about money and greed and we have to realize that and do something about it the small independent independent businesses better trying to survive are not doing well in these days is President Obama would you raise the minimum wage I think it would be a good thing as well as well the bad thing that’s just my opinion have a good day everyone

  21. TFRED says:

    This a great sounding concept with many conflicting sides. Make more money and existing benefits do get decreased as others have said. Increase employers costs and they will simply charge more, not hire as many, or close. I work in a CRP with people who range from very independent to people needing complete care. There are people with I/DD backgrounds who work community jobs everyday and are doing very well. Many others had community jobs through a variety of programs. Most of them lost those jobs due to speed, behavior on the job, quality of work, or simply not coming to work on time. When the job coach ended, so did the job. We have other people whose work skills are under 25% in all settings. As an employer, my cost is at least $12 an hour ($10 hr salary plus at least 20% for FICA, WC, UE, ACA/health insurance, and other benefits overhead). Add on operations, facility overhead, mortgage, utilities and other costs and my cost per work hour can easily exceed $25 an hour. If I cannot bill enough to cover those costs or my employees cannot work fast enough to create a net volume that exceeds that cost I will not be around long regardless of any legal pressure. Income must exceed expenses to provide the jobs. I am very concerned that eliminating sub-minimum will push those 70% unemployment figures closer to 80%-85%. I’d love to play pro baseball, cannot hit a fastball. Wanting some activity and being able to perform that thing at a standard where a person will pay you are two very separate issues. Working for an employer is no different. If you can do the job, go for it.

  22. Whtiney says:

    The subminimum wage has failed but not because of the program itself and it was people who implement on a group that it wasn’t meant for. US is not a manufacturing country so the widgets analogy is a flawed one what is happening is the sector of economy is growing is the service. Specifically the IT (Information Technology: Computer industry) and the Medical field (Nurses and MA). It is much cheaper to order a widget made in China or Thailand than buying the US the quality would be better.

    In the specifically the IT has it share of people on the ASD spectrum. People with Autism can code in the computer languages of JAVA and C++, make software patches to program, and fix the computers. The people with Autism know computers both in the realms of legal or illegal environments. Cyber Crime is on the rise and the first line of defense is the IT. This means business are dealing with hackers on a daily basis attacks on the Networks and Domain Names. I do believe the Hacker that Hacked into Target was on the ASD spectrum. It makes no sense to pay the IT personal who are disabled a sub-minimum wage because they have socio-cognitive disorder. That is what the Job Coaches are asking us to do. If your first line defense is getting paid $2.00 an hour to protect from thieves that rob millions from you. It is job coaches who are under the impression all disabilities should earn less than the non-disabled community. IF the person who ASD high functioning is often pressured to sub-minimum wage jobs.

    There is a new virus call Ransomware basically it use a sophisticated encryption code to encrypt the computer files and then holds for ransom. It is new form of Cyber-terrorism because the files themselves go as high $700 by the hackers for their release. It is probably developed by a person who has been marginalized by society and has socio-cognitive disorder. I am not ruling the possibility out. Simply because people who ASD are not invested enough in keeping the status quo. They are not getting ahead and the fact the current system harms them. They barely have a food on the table and a roof over their head. So it analysis of having nothing to lose makes them hackers and turn to life of crime. It can happen to high functioning people who have a disability.

    The other problem is people are confusing EQ and IQ. People with ASD high functioning high IQ but low EQ and most people consider them to be stupid. Having a low EQ means you do poorly in social situation but does not mean you are not intelligent. Job Coaches been misusing shelter work programs and playing fast and loose with the laws when it suits them. By the same token had been obeying the laws when it suits them.

  23. Tony Meeker says:

    You have all watched some of our disabled friends master sub minimum wage jobs and move on to better jobs because of the training they have received along the way. Making the beginning job to costly will rob the disabled of possible advancement and they will just be left in the dust bin like they were years ago. Jobs at any wage brings dignity and a taste of what it can be with training and effort. This executive mandate will take that away and the hope for many disabled will be dashed on the rocks of wishful thinking.

  24. Allison says:

    I am the CEO of a program that employs individuals with developmental disabilities under the wage and hour certificate that allows us to pay less than minimum wage. If you read the requirements that allow us to do this you will see that it mandates that individuals are paid equitably to “typical” workers doing the same work. We are mandated to annually survey wages for each type of work and set our standard on the prevailing wage, not minimum. Then we “time study” each individual every 6 months and adjust their wage based on their speed and accuracy compared to any other worker doing the same work. If individuals earn less than minimum wage, it is because for whatever reason, they are not working to the standard. If this rule is enacted, I do not see this as positive for individuals in our programs, as the jobs will then go to typical workers who can get the job done with less people and faster. This will be devastating to about 60% of the individuals currently working in my program. They will most likely be unemployed and back on 100% support from our tax paying citizens.

  25. Annette says:

    Thank you Terry and Michael. You have done well at explaining the true purpose of the Sub-Minimum Wage. I disagree with President Obama’s $10.10 policy.

  26. Dadvocate says:

    Yet again, Tom Perez and fellow ideologues promising that a mandated, one size fits all approach of independent living and competitive employment will solve all of the challenges facing the disability community. Great sound byte. Awful policy.

    It’s simply stunning that these folks are so willing to eliminate the rights and voluntary choices of so many, especially those with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities, to further their rigid, ideological goals. Apparently exercising “choice” is great to the Feds unless they disagree with the ones you want to make. One size does not fit all and shuttering or starving critical service providers will increase costs and responsibilities on already stressed families and caregivers.

  27. Mike Duschene says:

    The results of closing sheltered workshops will be catastrophic for individuals with significant disabilities and their families. Tens of thousands of individuals currently employed there will not find community-based jobs because they are unable to meet employer productivity standards. Closing down sheltered workshops equates to lost jobs/unemployment. As a result, these individuals will rely more on public assistance in the form of greater monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks. The self-worth, pride, and sense of belonging these individuals currently have as a result of their employment in a sheltered workshop will be lost. Public policy makers and advocates must not lose sight that “one size does not fit all.”

  28. Jim Lambert-Oswald says:

    I have no problem paying my people $10.10 an hour as long as the government gives us contracts that will cover such an increase. All too often the government makes unfunded mandates that make it more and more difficult for decent companies to survive.

  29. David Pinson says:

    There are literally thousands of young and older adults with developmental disabilities that will NOT be able to earn a wage now, due to this well intentioned law…Many of them do not need the wages to live as they are already supported by disability and supported living situations, but these sub minimum jobs were so very important to them feeling like they were doing something positive with their time and life..shame on you all for passing this law!! TELL EVERYONE ABOUT THIS TRAVESTY!!

  30. Judith Greenbaum says:

    . People who produce at the same rate as others without DD/ID should receive the same minimum wage. Some people (like my daughter with ID who works very hard) cannot do this. Her wages should continue to be based on piece work. Piece work wages can be increased. My daughter is very happy and proud to be working.

  31. Dianne says:

    Well, everyone should be treated equal regardless of there disability. Some people may be able to do more than what others think these people just need a chance. Don’t throw them to the side just because give them a chance, it can make them feel better. Also to the ones who are married if you apply for disabilty and get it at the end of year or tax time the gov can take over half back so a person is better off working you’ll come out better financially

  32. Bob Harris says:

    How do we forward comments regarding:

    The Labor Department action this week opens Obama’s plan up for public comment through July 17. Regulators are then expected to issue a final rule on the matter by Oct. 1.

    We need contact information

    Thanks
    Bob

  33. Dadvocate says:

    Bob Harris – All comments (on any government regulation open for comment) can be submitted online at http://www.regulations.gov Search for the relevant regulatory rule or proposal, Anyone can submit comments. They can be a sentence or two or a multiple page highly referenced and footnoted document (usually sent as an attachment.)

  34. kathleen says:

    Way to go Whitney…

  35. Janice Capezzuto says:

    I am not for contracting out the work of the Federal Government. In every instance I have seen in our local area, the contractors cost tax-payers more than when the job was done by GS employees. After the contractors weren’t making a profit any longer, the work returned to the GS system.

  36. Sally says:

    All of the posts show the complexity of the issue of sub-minimun wages. For the most part individuals who do not have a family member or close friend who has a disability can’t understand the multiple implications of eliminating this practice. I absolutely agree that there should be know discriminations in the work force or the world in general. The reality is that world does not exist. Money is the god of business and most individuals with disabilities can not make a company as much money as one without. Employment can be cut throat even for a “normal” person. The further reality is that most CRPs cannot keep their doors open without the ability to pay sub minimun wages. Without CRPs most of those with disabilities will simply sit at home. Is this progress, I think not.

  37. John says:

    It is said that this is not a simple issue – that is certainly an understatement. If an individual has the ability to work at the level any particular employer deems necessary to complete the job independently, then they should be paid an equitable rate as compared to all others completing that same job. However, what about those who can do part of a job, but would not, due to whatever challenges they may have, be able to complete all responsibilities of the position. These individuals have abilities that allow them to focus on particular facets of a position, but struggle to keep up with the entirety of the job as it is defined. This is where ideas such as “piece rate” and “group employment” come in. By allowing employers to pay people based on the work they can actually perform, many adults w/ Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities have been able to secure meaningful work. It is true that some of these folks will be able to develop new skills as they learn, and may eventually be able to move into a position where they are able to complete all duties of the position independently; if they reach this point, they should be paid an equitable rate as compared to others who complete the same position. However, for every individual who reaches this goal, there are many others who will not, due to their own individual challenges, be able to move beyond their current ability level. If this law passes, and employers are forced to pay minimum wage to all people who work for them, regardless of their capacity, many individuals will suffer, and lose the opportunity to engage in meaningful work, something that provides them joy and purpose (money is not the main driver for many of these individuals).

    I find it unfortunate that voices on both sides of this debate are so black and white. As with so much of our world, this issue lies squarely in the gray. There are clearly individuals, who happen to have some sort of disability, yet who can complete the entirety of a job independently – these folks should be paid an equitable rate, and this is where the debate should focus. However, don’t presume to lump all individuals with the full range of “disabilities” into the same grouping – this law will make it impossible for the majority of well-intentioned employers to hire and pay people who are only able to complete segments of a job, thereby drastically decreasing the opportunities available to this subset of people, and increasing the numbers of individuals who are unable to participate productively in society.

    When thinking about this issue, as it pertains to people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, people need to question what the focus is. Are we looking to have all individuals, regardless of their ability level, earn minimum wage or higher, thereby creating a situation where many individuals will likely lose out on opportunities to engage in meaningful, productive work. Or, do we want to have a system where all people, if they choose, are given the opportunity to participate productively in our society. If you are inclined to lean toward the latter idea, then we need to have a more honest conversation about the impact this law would have on those people who want to work, are able to work, but may not be able to fully meet all expectations of any particular job description.

    I am a human advocate who has worked on the front lines and in the background. This issue is complicated, it is not black and white – we need to be very careful that we don’t inadvertently diminish the lives of the very people we are saying we want to help.

  38. Ron says:

    This is a bad idea among a long list of bad ideas from this administration. Most of the folks who are developmentally disabled live with their parents or in residential facilities. They are supported by taxpayer funded services that include housing; clothing; food; medical and dental; transportation and more. They are guaranteed these services by law. They receive these services because their disabilities restrict them from earning a living. The don’t have jobs in the usual sense because they have no bills to pay. We pay them. They work in order to have extra money above and beyond the necessities. Most of the jobs are adjusted by their employer to match their abilities and there is no expectation that they keep pace with their non-disabled counterparts. Pay is decided upon by the agency in charge of their services and the employer. Tight state budgets have already eliminated many of the jobs once available to these folks and now Obama has just wiped out the rest of them. Unintended consequences, huh POTUS.

  39. Wendy says:

    Where are we supposed to give our input? Are we to post a comment on this page and it will be read by the government officials who are going to read this or are we to write our congressmen?
    I would appreciate a response to this as I would like to give my input but do not want to waste my time posting on something that will not be read by those who need to see it.

    I have a son with a disability and I do not think that this law would benefit him.
    The word disability is too broad. There are many types of disabilities and it would effect each differently.

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