Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop - July 30, 2013
The legislation described seems right to me. It's a compromise, and I'd prefer to see Minimum Wage for everyone, but this I think addresses most of the philosophical and practical problems involved. I would like to see the bill go a bit further in defining sheltered workshop work as job training rather than employment. To me that's as important as Minimum Wage. However, it looks like the bill would make that more of a reality, if not in name then at least in practice.
So, why not just ban all subminimum wage? My wild guess is that there are too many families of people with significant cognitive impairments who think that would result in their loved one flat-out losing their "job". That may not be true, and it may not be true that too many families would think that, but it's the kind of argument that's kept subminimum wage and sheltered workshops going all this time in the face their increasingly embarrassing contradictions. It's also the same argument always used to argue against Minimum Wage increases. The compromise will help reinforce the idea that sheltered workshops and subminimum wage work are short-term pathways to full employment, not permanent, dead end jobs for supposedly substandard workers. This is an improvement.
Because the bill wouldn't do away with sub-minimum wage work altogether, I'm surprised that the National Council on Independent Living is in favor of it, but in a way that encourages me a bit to support the compromise.
More about sheltered workshops and sub-minimum wage work here, here, here, and here.
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