Sheltered workshop

Disability advocacy groups are calling on the federal government to stop issuing certificates authorizing subminimum wages for people with disabilities, reports Disability Scoop.

In a letter to acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su, the organizations cite a report showing that the number of workers with disabilities nationally earning subminimum wage has dropped drastically, which indicates there’s “no compelling reason” to continue issuing the certificates.

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In related news, a bill to end the subminimum wage for people with disabilities was reintroduced on Feb. 27, 2023, in Congress, reported Austic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). The bill, called the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (TCIEA), was first introduced in 2014.

The bipartisan legislation would provide states and employers with the resources to transition workers with disabilities who are in “sheltered workshops” into fully integrated and competitive jobs (known as competitive integrated employment), which includes earning at least the minimum wage alongside individuals without disabilities while phasing out the subminimum wage for individuals with disabilities.

Sheltered workshops, long considered problematic by many, are supposed to provide work skills opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. In addition to the controversial but legal practice of paying subminimum wages, critics say they segregate people with disabilities from the larger community and fail to provide skills that can be applied elsewhere.

Photo: Creative Commons

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