SABE Policy Statement on Employment

SABE Calls for Ending Sub-Minimum Wage in 2012

“We have been prepared enough. Get us real jobs. Close sheltered workshops.”

Position on Employment

October 31, 2009
Reasons why SABE is calling for an end to sub-minimum wage:

•    Inclusion is a birthright and work is a civil right. Every American has the right to work in their community without discrimination for any reason.

•    Slavery still exists today even though it was banned in1865 in the US Constitution. There are over 400,000 people with disabilities working in sheltered workshops. There is a rule called 14(c) certificate from the US Department of Labor that says people with disabilities can get paid “sub-minimum wage.” But it is not sub-minimum wage; it is hardly any wage at all.

•    People 30, 40 and 50 years old are just sitting in sheltered workshops, looking at the wall. It is babysitting grown men and women, not getting them in the community giving them training to be independent. It is wasting their time.

•    Some people earn 45 cents an hour or less in a sheltered workshop. This is “chicken feed.” They really use you and take advantage of your disability. Basically more training in a sheltered workshop means the same training. They should teach people how to do a job on the job.

•    Legislators have no problem giving money to institutions and sheltered workshops but they have a lot of problems funding transportation and supports to get people to work. When people work, they put money back in the system.

•    People with disabilities can work and handle a job. They know what they are doing. They know how to speak up for themselves.

•    US law says agencies need to believe that people with disabilities can work. The Rehabilitation Act says people can work regardless of the severity of disability, if the right services and supports are provided.

Therefore, be it resolved…
SABE calls for equal employment opportunities for equal pay for all people.

SABE calls for immediately, no new people can go into sheltered workshops.

SABE calls for immediately, no new people can go join an enclave.

SABE calls for ending sub minimum wage in 2012.

SABE calls for ending enclaves in 2014.

Issues to consider:

•    Start with folks who feel trapped and want to get out of the workshop. Avoid focusing on the people who you think it will be the easiest to find jobs for. If a person is motivated to make a change, even if they have fears, they are the ones who will lead the way.

•    Get benefit counselors to show people how much money you can earn over 10 years. Educate self-advocates on benefits and Medicaid.

•    Self-advocates need to talk more about closing sheltered workshops to each other. We need to put it out there boldly why sheltered workshops must close. There are not enough people speaking up. We must have equal employment opportunities for all people.

•    Be sensitive. Do not create a feeling that you are going to shove people out and abandon them. Give them options and support. Even those who are really afraid will have a complete turnaround once they see everybody else working. They will say, “I can do this let me have a chance.”

•    People should not lose their home if they do not have a job or place to go during the day.

•    It is not acceptable to close a sheltered workshop by moving people into day programs. The goal is to support people to work in real jobs.

•    People do not miss the “work” at the workshop; they miss hanging out with their friends. Do not forget to focus on helping the person to get more friends. If you have money in your pocket you can socialize

•    Get families on board. When family members are scared about the workshop closing, their fear spills over to their son or daughter. Families are still stopping people from working because they are afraid a person will lose their social security or Medicaid benefits.

•    You need to keep people in jobs not just find them. You need to be there for folks who lose their jobs and help them find another job. But unemployment is a fact of life!

•    Provide peer run employment support groups. We have been out in the workforce as a person with a disability. We want the truth. Sometimes agency staff “sugar coat” the information. And depending on the staff person, they can talk for hours and really could have said it in a few words. We are better at knowing how to deal with discrimination and problems of people not accepting us for who we are.

•    Provide flexible job support. A person may need support on weekends, evenings, or on a schedule that varies from week to week.

•    The agencies with the best success do customized supported employment. They avoid just responding to want ads. Design it around the person: be customer-focused.

•    Think outside of the food and filth box – find jobs that involve something other than cleaning, carts and dishes.

•    Provide support for people to start their own businesses.

•    Improve collaboration between Departments of Labor, Vocational Rehabilitation and other agencies that support people with disabilities.

•    Create opportunities for jobs in public speaking and teaching people with disabilities, their families and support staff.

•    Seek out all types of jobs including government jobs. Push for people to be employed at their developmental disabilities agencies.

•    Create opportunities for jobs in public speaking and teaching people with disabilities, their families and support staff.

•    Seek out all types of jobs including government jobs. Push for people to be employed at their developmental disabilities agencies.