RE: Ending Subminimum Wage Payments to Workers with Disabilities

Year: 
2013
Resolution Number: 
2013-03

RESOLUTION 2013-03
RE: Ending Subminimum Wage Payments to Workers with Disabilities

WHEREAS, Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), founded on the erroneous belief that people with disabilities lack the capacity for competitive, integrated employment, currently permits approximately 3,000 employers to obtain Special Wage Certificates allowing them to pay over 400,000 workers with disabilities wages that are less than the federal minimum wage, herein referred to as “subminimum wages,” some as low as 3 cents per hour; and

WHEREAS, employers who pay subminimum wages to people with disabilities, arguing that the Special Wage Certificate is an essential tool for employing workers with disabilities, threaten that an increase in employee wages would require them to terminate their workers with disabilities, but these same employers have enough revenue to pay their executives six-figure salaries and pay professional lobbyists to advocate for the perpetuation of this discriminatory provision; and

WHEREAS, other employers of people with disabilities operating in similarly situated industries, working with comparable populations of employees with disabilities, are able to maintain successful businesses without the use of the Special Wage Certificates, proving the assertions and threats of subminimum wage employers to be false; and

WHEREAS, Goodwill Industries admits that 101 (almost two-thirds) of its 165 affiliates pay their workers with disabilities the federal minimum wage or higher, while the remaining sixty-four affiliates take advantage of the Special Wage Certificates to pay their workers with disabilities immorally subminimum wages, illustrating the hypocritical and unjustifiable position of employers who pay subminimum wages to their disabled workers; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is joined by our Fair Wage partners--over fifty other national and local organizations of and for people with disabilities--in our effort to support the policies and programs that work to end the payment of subminimum wages to workers with disabilities and aggressively to oppose the development and implementation of policies that would perpetuate the use of this discriminatory provision; and

WHEREAS, Congressman Gregg Harper has introduced the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013, HR 831, which, when enacted, will immediately stop the issuance of new Special Wage Certificates, responsibly phase out the use of the Special Wage Certificates over a three-year period, and finally repeal Section 14(c) of the FLSA; and

WHEREAS, despite substantial research validating the benefits of new, innovative strategies to train and employ workers with disabilities at competitive wages and demonstrating the waste and harm caused by subminimum-wage employment, preliminary Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization discussions propose language in Section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act that links Section 14(c) of the FLSA to the Rehabilitation Act and allows the obsolete practices of employers who pay subminimum wages to be considered viable training and job-placement-service providers for people with disabilities: and

WHEREAS, reauthorization discussions also propose language moving the Rehabilitation Services Administration from the Department of Education to the Department of Labor without any data, research, or cost/benefit analysis, and

WHEREAS, the Department of Labor model is exceptionally insufficient for school-age youth with disabilities or individuals who become significantly disabled as adults who are better served by the rehabilitation and education function of the Department of Education. We agree that the biggest problem with rehabilitation and employment services for youth and adults with significant disabilities is the inability of the Rehabilitation Services Administration to become an integrated functioning entity within the Department of Education, and the ineffective process being used to transition youth with disabilities from school to work. However, with the obvious need to increase RSA’s status within the Department of Education, we feel that a move away from the Department of Education seems to be taking RSA in the wrong direction; NOW, THEREFORE;

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona in Convention assembled this 15th day of September, 2013, in the city of Tucson, Arizona, that we condemn and deplore the actions of all employers that take advantage of the unfair, discriminatory, immoral provision found in Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we continue to encourage the public to discontinue donating to, shopping at, or partnering with Goodwill or other subminimum-wage employers, until they discontinue their use of the Special Wage Certificates and pay every employee at least the federal minimum wage; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on all members of the Arizona delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives to support the repeal of Section 14(c) of the FLSA by supporting the passage of HR 831; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on Senators McCain and Flake to refuse to integrate subminimum wage language in the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act that perpetuates the use of Section 14(c) of the FLSA and to work toward the introduction and passage of legislation to end the payment of subminimum wages to workers with disabilities, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on Senators McCain and Flake not to support the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act unless the language moving the Rehabilitation Services Administration from the Department of Education to the Department of Labor is removed.

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