Last Friday, the NBC primetime news program Rock Center did a story about sheltered workshops, and the labor law provision that allows them and similar organizations to pay certain workers with disabilities less than minimum wage. I didn't see the show, but I have read the accompanying article on the NBC website, and I'll watch the segment online shortly.
The disability organization I worked for never had sheltered workshops, and in fact Centers for Independent Living uniformly opposes them. However, there are a few sheltered workshops in my area, and we often assisted people who worked at them. My take on the issue has always been that they are at best a relic of an earlier time, and at worst genuine exploitation. Unfortunately, I think that most of the criticisms against sheltered workshops and paying sub-minimum wage leave out some important aspects that both help explain why such a seemingly unfair system ever got approved, and how the system could be changed without unintended negative consequences for the workers.
I'll have more to say on this later today, or maybe tomorrow after I do some more thinking and reading about it.
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