Clinton Calls For End To Subminimum Wage
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is speaking out about sheltered workshops and the practice of paying people with disabilities less than minimum wage.
At a campaign stop this week, Clinton was asked by an attorney with autism about subminimum wage.
“When it comes to jobs, we’ve got to figure out how we get the minimum wage up and include people with disabilities in the minimum wage,” Clinton said at the event in Madison, Wis. “There should not be a tiered wage and right now there is a tiered wage when it comes to facilities that do provide opportunities, but not at a self-sufficient wage that enable people to gain a degree of independence as far as they can go.”
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Under a federal law dating back to the 1930s, employers can obtain special permission from the U.S. Department of Labor to pay people with disabilities less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.
Despite insistence from some families and advocates that low pay is still necessary to ensure opportunities for people with disabilities who are unable to succeed in competitive employment, the practice is falling out of favor.
Last year, New Hampshire became the first state to ban subminimum wage. And, a 2014 federal law introduced new limits on who could be eligible to enter sheltered workshops or other employment situations paying less than minimum wage.
In her remarks, Clinton referred to the practice as a “loophole.”
Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, which has long advocated against subminimum wage, welcomed Clinton’s stand.
“We call upon the other presidential candidates to join with us and over 75 other organizations of people with disabilities in supporting the repeal of section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to reject the misconceptions and low expectations that have for too long kept people with disabilities from achieving our dreams,” Riccobono said in a statement.
As of this year, the National Federation of the Blind said that Labor Department statistics show about 3,000 employers nationwide paid over 250,000 people with disabilities as little as pennies per hour.