Basically, I think Harry Smith summed it up very well when he suggested that this is simply an out of date model that's long overdue for an overhaul.
A few more thoughts:
- Families of people with disabilities who are in these sheltered workshops do often support and defend them, but their concerns and perspectives aren't always the best for their adult "children". Many, though not all parents prioritize stability, certainty, and perceived safety over almost all other goals, including fair pay, fulfillment, and what the individuals actually want.
- The CEO salaries thing ... I usually think that arguments about CEO salaries are overblown, at least in terms of impact. Cutting a CEO's salary in half, or quartering it, usually wouldn't make that much of a difference to the average workers. However, in this case, the difference is so extreme that I think radical change is in order, and might actually be possible.
- The blind woman interviewed, who used to work at a Goodwill sheltered workshop, said that her low wages barely even paid for her transportation to and from work. When our local sheltered workshop agency stopped providing van rides for sheltered workshop workers, my agency got lots of calls from counselors who were trying to figure out how to get "their clients" to and from "work" in an affordable way ... and they explicitly made the same point. For some, it cost more to attend than they made in wages. This was the counselors talking ... employees of the very same organization. My point: pretty much everyone involved knows the system is at best deeply flawed and nonsensical.
- For what it's worth, the State Vocational Rehabilitation in my state made a policy change a few years ago in which placing a person in a sheltered workshop would not longer be considered a final, successful job "placement." This is important, because the number of successful placements is how everyone in Voc. Rehab. is judged. So there's no longer an incentive for counselors to shove all their "difficult" cases into sheltered workshops. They may place some people in sheltered workshops for short-term training, but only with the expectation of eventually moving out into a regular job.