Subminimum Wages/Disabled Workers: April 21, 2015Download Audio
Organizer’s Forum: Tuesday, April 21st – Topic- Subminimum Wages for Workers with Disabilities and our Fight to End the Antiquated Practice
TUESDAY, April 21st, 1-2 pm Eastern time, 12-1 Central time, 11-12 Mountain time, 10-11 am Pacific time
- Call in number: 1-860-970-0300
- Code: 193134#
- Rose Sloan, National Federation of the Blind
- Sam Crane, Autistic Self-Advocacy Network
- Curt Decker, National Disability Rights Network
Hear about the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act and the victories that have been achieved on the state level in creating competitive, integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Has your state or organization taken steps to help phase out the discriminatory practice of paying people with disabilities subminimum wages? Come share your stories and hear from others who are passionate about ensuring that people with disabilities are paid fair wages.
We will also hear an update on New Hampshire — the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation making it illegal to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage!
To get an idea of who joins our calls, if you are interested in joining on Tuesday, please fill out this quick form!
CART: The call will have real-time captioning (CART)! The website where you will be able to view the captioning is https://2020captioning.1capapp.com. Username: forum. Password: forum. Thank you to the National Disability Leadership Alliance for sponsoring the captioning of this call.
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The Organizing Workgroup of the National Disability Leadership Alliance hosts these calls the third Tuesday of every month as a resource for disability organizers, in an effort toward building the organizing capacity of the disability community across the country. They generally follow the format of a Welcome followed by 2-3 experts in a given area speaking for a few minutes on their experiences, advice and challenges. The calls include a 20-30 minute question and answer period.
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Looking forward to talking with you all!
Jessica Lehman and Diane Coleman
Co-Chairs, National Organizing Workgroup
Event: Organizer’s Forum
This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.
>> CART Provider: I have dialed into (860)970 0300 with pass code 193134. I am on stand by for the event to begin.
>> Hi, this is Diane Coleman. Thanks for being so timely.
>> Thank you. Thank you, Diane.
>> We’re just starting to get ready to people to sign in.
>> Okay. We’ll put you on mute, that way we won’t bother you.
>> Hi, we’re just giving people a couple minutes to sign in.
>> Hello. Am I coming through on the other end?
>> Diane: Yes.
>> I’m going to just go on mute then.
>> Diane: We’re just waiting a couple minutes for people to have a chance to sign in. It’s typical of this call so people expect that.
>> Diane: Hello. Just one more minute then we’ll get started. Okay, I think it makes sense to get started now. Can everybody hear me okay in.
>> I can hear you.
>> Diane: Let me first of all welcome everyone. This is the Organizer’s Forum which is a project of the National Disability Leadership Alliance. That’s an alliance of organizations led by people with disabilities with a national steering committee of 15 such organizations, and I’m proud to report we just added an organization which is the National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities, so we’re real happy with that.
I’d like to first introduce myself. I’m Diane Coleman with the organization Not Dead Yet which is a member of the steering committee. And I am core chair of the Organizer’s Forum with Jessica Lehman and she is normally the facilitator of the call but I have this really hot secret news for everyone. She’s heading off for her honeymoon so she asked me to fill in for her. It’s so nice to have a good reason like that but I’m on not as used to doing it so please forgive me if I make mistakes or I’m unclear. Feel free to interrupt me with questions or whatever if anything doesn’t make sense. She did give me good notes.
So this call is one way to discuss the kinds of issues that we like to talk about, issues in terms of substantive things that the disability community is working on and also organizing community organizing issues and strategies.
So besides these calls we also have a Facebook page, Organizer’s Forum, and it’s great if you like it. And we have a list serve Organizer’s Forum all on Word at yahoogroups.com and you can just go to Yahoo groups and search for Organizer’s Forum and click join. So we encourage people to have input from questions from this call or other calls we’ve done on Facebook or the list serve and share what stood out to you and continue the dialogue. We also have recordings and transcripts of the calls which are accessible on our website which is disabilityleadership.org. So we have a different topic each month and we’re always looking for ideas and would encourage anyone to suggest ideas that you may have. The call is captioned and in your notice to the call you received how to log into it and we can assure those who would prefer to post questions that way, you can do that and I’ll try to be online for that phase of our discussion and read any questions that come in that way but we encourage people to speak up if they can. Those who do speak, speak slowly and clearly one at a time for the benefit of the captioner and say your name before you speak. One more housekeeping detail, please don’t put us on hold. Once in awhile somebody’s done that we get hold music that drowns out these other discussions but instead hang up and just call back in, which is easy to do. And if you’re not speaking it is good to mute your phone. You can mute your phone using star six, and if you press star six again that would un mute your phone.
So I think that we can afford to take a moment to let everyone know who is on the call. Typically the way that Jessica has done that is by geographic area so if folks would like to introduce themselves and indicate what organization you’re withing with the West Coast, please feel free. Do we have anybody from the west coast?
>> This is Paul [indiscernible] from [indiscernible] in Anchorage.
>> Diane: Oh, great. Far, far out there. Anybody else on the west? How about in the mountain time zone?
>> James Turner from Living Independent in Boise. Southwest.
>> Ida: Center for Independent Living.
>> Ted Barton at living independently for today and tomorrow in Billings, Montana. We are the center for eastern Montana.
>> Diane: Great. Any others in the mountain time zone?
>> This is Randall Kiddenhead. I’m a board member with Community Now Living in El Paso, Texas.
>> Diane: Great.
>> This is Diane Clinton at the [indiscernible] Southeast Living Center. I’m coordinator.
>> Diane: Great. Hello.
>> Diane: Is that the central time zone?
>> Yes. Yes, it’s central.
>> Hi, I’m [indiscernible] for independent living in Wisconsin, Green Bay.
>> Diane: Great.
>> This is Allison Morash. I chair Little People of America’s employment committee and I’m from Mississippi.
>> Very appropriate to this particular topic especially.
>> Diane: More in the central time zone? Jessica left me a note that we tend to be East Coast heavy so I guess that seems to be the case today. Folks on the East Coast.
>> [indiscernible] Kilpatrick [indiscernible].
>> Hi this is Allison wool with ABSY.
>> David [indiscernible] and also a board member of ASME, Maryland.
>> Frank [indiscernible] from southern independent center in Bennington, New York.
>> [indiscernible] mark us from Maryland Disability Law Center. I can’t stay on the call for long but I’m here now.
>> Hi, Virginia. That’s great.
>> Hi. Okay, anybody else on the East Coast besides our speaker?
>> Hi, my name is Tracy Butterfield. I’m from the Vermont Center for Independent Living.
>> Diane: And with that are we complete? There’s a great geographic diversity on this call so thank you everyone for joining us. Today’s topic is a really important and exciting update on something we have spoken about before which is the problem of subminimum wage being paid to people with disabilities and how our community is accessibly addressing that. So I’d like to thank our speakers today for Rose Sloan, the government affairs specialist at National Federation of the Blind as well as Sam Crane, the director of public policy at the [indiscernible] self advocacy network and Kurt Becker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network. And let me turn it over to you, Rose, to carry forward.
>> Rose: Thanks Diane and thanks for everyone for calling in to our Organizer’s Forum on subminimum wages. Today we’re going to have Mr. Kurt Becker from the National Disability Rights Network to talk about what NDRN has been doing specifically on this topic. He’s going to focus more so like at the state level, NDRN is the national organization that of the PNA, protection advocacy all over the country. And then Samantha Crane from ASAN is going to talk about what has been going on at the administration level so there was an executive order she’s going to talk about and I know ASAN and other disability organizations have been talking with the department of labour, for example, about this topic and then I’m going to talk about the legislation that has been going on both at the state and federal level with regard to this topic. So Kurt I’m going to turn it over to you.
>> Kurt: Thank you, Rose, and thank you all for inviting us to participate and I’m very happy that this issue is continuing to be on your radar and of high interest to your organization because this is one of those problems that I think is going to take a great deal of work, coalitions and coordination with many groups to really work on this outcome. I’m sure you all know the history, you know, once again a well intentioned idea back in the 30s about trying to encourage private employers to hire people with disabilities and using sub minimum wage as an incentive. That didn’t work. Very little of the private industry actually took advantage of that and we’ve had a 40, 50 year history of disability organizations again well intentioned utilizing the [indiscernible] provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act to begin to begin providing initially training and using subminimum wage as a way to encourage that training with the hope of putting people out into competitive fully integrated employment. Again, didn’t happen.
Now in 2016 we think we have almost [indiscernible] 500,000 people primarily with intellectual disabilities in sheltered and segregated settings. And there’s a lot of reasons for that continuation which we could talk about a little bit. Not only is there the law but we think we were suffering from low expectations, of families and providers about what people with disabilities can do. The allowing of segregation, some of the state and local funding from DD agencies that encourage these places to stay around, Medicaid funding. Medicaid claims they don’t provide sheltered workshops but we know that many providers use Medicaid to keep their programs operating when they have down time or when they’re losing contracts. Very little planning, the failure to use transition services for children with both special education and both rehab to make sure that young people don’t just go down the chute into sheltered segregated employment when they graduate from high school. A variety of policies and procedures in addition the law that sort of encourage the continuation of these kinds of things.
On a personal level I saw my first sheltered workshop in 1980 in Frederick, Maryland. I was appalled at what I saw going on there and it is sad 36 years later there’s still a very similar kind of operation. So NDRN with some of that background really decided that it was important to sort of pull the veil off, if you will, of why these places, this whole concept, the skill is alive, well and flourishing in our country when we’re in an era of, you know, community integration, independent living, choice and so it’s rather interesting that this framework still exists within this larger arena of principles. So we begin with several reports. We did two. The first one just utilizing the experience of our PNA network and we are not to have a program with state and legal [indiscernible] and so our report I think began hopefully with a conversation about why this kind of concept [indiscernible] and how it’s operational and the various, you know, policies, laws, funding that continues and tried to raise the issues about why this is such a violation of the concept of community integration and segregation. We then based on this report, and we got a fair amount of pushback from those reports, you know, I will say this up front, this is one of those issues where we are sometimes now in tension with many of our colleagues. Many of our friends, people that we worked with for decades on a variety of disability issues are also people who run and maintain disability workshops so we have an interesting interaction with disability organizations. We very quickly got involved in the Laden case in Oregon. This was a case that is being brought by the PNA, a private law firm [indiscernible] and of fortunately the Department of Justice has been involved in this case and while that case is still going on a very important moment happened when in a motions hearing the judge in the case actually issued an opinion saying that homestead covers employment. Critical I think legal principle now that the whole concept of the homestead principle of segregation is discrimination on people with disability, it’s not just limited to the residential arena. It covers employment. So that’s an important concept that hopefully we can build on.
We have been working on a variety of levels because we think this is just a difficult issue there just has to be multiple strategies working in conjunction and so we’re doing things like we have a bunch of monitoring projects. We developed a monitoring tool for our members. Some of our members are using it on their own. Others have dedicated funding. We’ve done out and trained members on the monitoring tool and we have those folks going out, interviewing people in sheltered workshops to find out why they’re there, how they got there, do they want to be there, what they’re earning, what are their benefits if any. In a couple of places especially in Oklahoma we use person first because we think bringing peers into the sheltered cork shop to talk to people there, to show them that that’s not the only option to them. There’s a creative way of trying to and we’re do you want what we’re finding there. We’re also using that information to file wage and hour complaints to the department of lab person. They have a problem of receiving complaints and so we’re trying to bring to the attention of the wage and hour division of labour who is going on the ground. They’re responsible for approving a portion of these certificates. They’re also responsible for, you know, looking at whether productivity assessments, I hope people know that that’s where the people with disability workshops are assessed on their legal of productivity and that is what determines their wage. Of course what we’re finding throughout the country is people who tell us that they don’t mind being in the sheltered workshop but they like their other job better and we find out that their other job that they’re working at minimum wage out into the community and yet when they come into the sheltered workshop somebody assesses them as being less than 100% productive and then uses that as an [indiscernible] but we know there are many, many people in these facilities who could clearly work, you know, in competitive integrated employment at the minimum wage.
>> CART Provider: I’m wondering if you can come off the your speaker phone so I can hear you more clearly.
>> I’m sorry but that’s all I have available is the speaker phone. Just a few more points. I don’t want to take up a lot of the time so the other speakers have their community. We’ve certainly been working with the Department of Justice. As you know DOJ was involved in Rhode Island and a significant finding there about young people, students who were being put many sheltered workshops by the school and then moving right into sheltered workshops. That was DOJ and they did a great job sort of utilizing the laying principle of homestead covering employment. We have now taken that case in a couple of states and gone to the state and said you need to begin to negotiate with the PNA about doing something differently for [indiscernible] in Rhode Island so we’re trying to leverage the DOJ, Rhode Island’s situation to move other states forward without having to have Department of Justice come in. We are looking at encouraging our states to think about legislation at the state level that would trump 14 C. States can on their own go forward and pass state laws that, you know, requires the payment of minimum wage and not be able to utilize 14 C so aggressive states we think that might be somewhat of a strategy.
Clearly I’m sure we’re going to talk about 511 but we did support 511. Not a perfect Section 511 which is part of the new rehabilitation work incentive act, an important small start to close the front door. We were able to get some language in there that our client assistance program will have enforcements of 511 so it’s very critical for us on the ground to make sure that the potential of 511 actually works.
And we’re also looking at another issue where we have discovered in our monitoring that very little [indiscernible] assistive technology provided at workshops. As a result their productivity levels are low. [indiscernible] could increase their productivity, increase their wages. I’ll be honest with you. I was at a meeting of providers a couple of years ago and they said that they had to pay one third of the minimum wage to all the people in the workshop they would probably go out of business. I took that as a challenge to let’s see if we can get those wages up while they’re there. Maybe that’s another strategy about being able to get people out.
The last thing I would say is I think we’ve had I also tell people that I think we’ve shaken the building, very strong building and some bricks are coming off but we’re a long way from really, you know, making changing the mindset and the business model of providers who see this as the only way to go. I would say that our principle here is we think under IDEA, all children are entitled to an education. We think in the ADA all people should be living many an integrated society. We should also take the principle that all people should be able to work and start from that premise.
Let me just say one last thing. There is a lot of pushback. Because providers are not happy and are very nervous about, you know, their structure. Parents in many cases are not happy. We’ve had a lot of push back from family saying leave it alone. My child is out in the community, is out of the house. I don’t care about the money. They’re very happy with they are. Don’t rock the boat. And there’s been as I said a lot of funding streams that are invested in keeping these things going so there is as always a pushback, you know, from a variety of places as we try to challenge this process and this concept of having so the other thing we have to be careful about is [indiscernible] consequences. We certainly don’t want to seashell Tedder workshops close or shut down and then the folks that are in those facilities just sent over to segregated day [indiscernible] program and that does happen now and it’s going to be very critical if we are successful in changing the mindset and the business model that we just don’t move people into something more segregated and less productive so there are challenges going forward and it’s not a simple issue so we have to make sure that we’re looking at all these, you know, items in this thing as we begin to try to move to a more centered, integrated competitive employment for people with disabilities. And I’ll be glad to answer questions. [indiscernible] might have a few as well and I’ll stop there.
>> Diane: Great. Thank you, Kurt. Samantha Crane, are you on the call?
>> Yes, I am. Can everyone hear me?
>> Diane: Yes, ma’am.
>> Samantha: Okay, great. Did someone say something? All right, I’ll go ahead. I’m Samantha Crane, the director of public policy at the self advocacy network and I have been working with NDRN, NFB and many other coalition organizations to try and see what we can do at the administrative level that is the federal agencies and enforcement level to try and get people diverted out of sheltered workshops and get sheltered workshops closed as much as we can and replaced with more integrated employment opportunities. There have been some pretty exciting developments at the administrative level in the past year or so. The first one has been that the centres of Medicare and Medicaid services came out with a new rule on the kinds of setting that can receive funding through Medicaid’s home and community based services program. This program is actually a big source of funding for sheltered workshops and especially there’s this one specific kind of service called reemployment services where the person is explicitly, you know, getting services designed to teach them supposedly designed to teach them general workplace skills, not specific job tasks but things like attendance and timeliness and listening to instructions. And they can’t be paid for more than minimum wage for those for their participation in the preemployment program.
The home and community based services program also can fund, however, services like supported employment where a person is earning at least minimum wage in an integrated setting. And it also that same preemployment services funding could be used instead of placing someone at a sheltered workshop, it could be used to give someone, for example, a volunteer opportunity so they’re not getting paid but they’re in an integrated setting and they’re not being discriminated against with respect to other people doing the same kinds of volunteer work.
The new rule on home and community based services essentially says that the services both in home and out of the home need to be in an integrated setting, that people need to have a choice of a non disability specific setting, and people need to be afforded the maximum opportunities to get competitive integrated employment. We’ve taken the position that sheltered workshops should really never be seen as meeting these integration requirements. We know that people in sheltered workshops do not usually end up being able that sheltered workshops don’t usually voluntarily graduate people and send them to competitive integrated employment. They’ll usually just keep people there for as long as they can. So it’s certainly not maximizing people’s opportunities for competitive integrated employment. It’s certainly not integrated when a person is staying in the workshop all day every day, and it’s certainly not giving people a choice of a non disability and specific setting.
We’ve seen a lot of pushback from providers who really want to continue getting home and community based services funding for their sheltered workshop but we’re also seeing a lot of good responses from states who want to use this new regulation as an opportunity to start transitioning away from using sheltered workshops. And one good thing about the regulation is it gives states about five years to work with providers and help them change their business model and otherwise help build capacity for integrated services to replace the more segregated services that people are currently getting.
Another thing that we’ve been working with extensively is the Department of Labor’s both wage and hour division which Kurt discussed already a bit but also Department of Labor has been working on regulations, implementing a law they passed last year the law is called the work force investment and opportunity act and there was a little section in there that was supposed to help divert people from entering sheltered workshops right after school when they’re transitioning to adulthood. This section it was called Section 511. A lot of the disability community didn’t really like it because we didn’t think it went far enough. We thought there was a possibility that it would end up sort of becoming a box checking exercise and that once people checked all the boxes they would end up putting people in sheltered workshops. And the regulations implementing 511 are an opportunity for us to really look and make sure that they’re that they have at least some piece and will have at least some effects to divert people away and into competitive integrated employment when they graduate high school.
We also worked last year to make sure that the president’s executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, we made sure that that executive order covered people with disabilities and now people with disabilities covered by that order will earn $10.10 an hour regardless whether they might have been receiving less than minimum wage. They’re going to at least be at the same floor as people without disabilities.
We’ve also been working with the wage and hour division, and I don’t want to completely just repeat what Kurt was talking about but we’ve been really urging wage and hour to give a closer look at applications for new certificates that employers need in order to pay less than minimum wage to their workers. And we’ve been particularly concerned that they’re really just looking at whether or not the employer is using the right formula to calculate employee wages. And we know that that’s not that’s already often not happening. But even when an employer does use the right formula, the law says that sheltered workshops should only be getting a certificate when it’s necessary to prevent curtailment of opportunities for employment. And we’ve taken the position that it’s simply not necessary to pay people less than minimum wage in order to avoid curtailing opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. And especially this is going to be the case when the sheltered workshop is getting a lot of outside funding, including funding from Medicaid, funding from the DD system, funding from the VR system or even private donations. That could be spent to support people in an integrated setting instead. We’d really like to see more data on collected by the wage and hour division on all of these other potential sources of funding, and we’ll really like to see the wage and hour division actually looking at that in making a determination.
One way is that the, you know, initial certificate approval level, but another level is to file an administrative complaint because the Section 14 C of the Fair Labor Standards Act actually allows people to file a complaint asking for review of the subminimum wage payments. And when we file that complaint we could bring in all of this information about funding that the sheltered workshop is receiving and saying look, they’re really double dipping here. They are saying that they need to pay people less because they need more supervision, for example, but they’re also charging Medicaid for the service of supervising people in these placements. That’s double dipping. They’re getting supposedly compensated twice for the same thing in our opinion that should lead to a loss of a license to practice. We know that a lot of sheltered workshops don’t think that they can be economically viable if they don’t get to both pay people less than minimum wage and pay people, get reimbursement through Medicaid. So we know that that double dipping is actually a big part of their economic model. And when we call attention to that, that could potentially really curtail the expansion or the use of sheltered workshops.
>> Rose: Thanks, Sam. Okay, now I’m going to speak about the legislation that has been going on it at the state and national level, and I’m going to try to be very quick because I know all of you probably have really excellent questions and good stories from your own perspective. So first I just want to say mention something that Kurt had really touched on, and the key word is “collaboration.” The disability community really needs to work together in order to really see the results that we want to see. And we saw this collaboration really work in the state of New Hampshire. Just last week on Wednesday the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed senate bill 47. The senate in New Hampshire had passed it back in March. And what this bill says is that it prohibits employers from employing employers with disabilities at an hourly rate that is lower than the federal minimum wage. So New Hampshire did just what Kurt was sort of outlining which is make a state law that trumps the federal law. But the only way this was able to happen was the independent living center in New Hampshire, along with the New Hampshire council on developmental disabilities, along with the National Federation of the Blind of New Hampshire, many organizations, I’m sure there were many, many more, came together and said, look, we don’t think it’s right to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage. And in fact, no entities in New Hampshire were paying people with disabilities less than the minimum wage.
But just for some more background on this bill. The reason why another reason why it came to be is that last year especially the council in New Hampshire on developmental disabilities pushed for creating a bill that would create a committee that would really look at the subminimum wages and to decide, you know, which path New Hampshire should take. And that really worked out well in the state of New Hampshire because it led to the bill and now New Hampshire is the first state to pass legislation that makes it illegal to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage.
I will say that Vermont does not have any Section 14 C, skill holding entities so Vermont is definitely on the right path, is on the right path but they don’t have legislation that specifically says that it is illegal to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage. So that’s the big victory at the state level but of course we would love to see this happen at the federal level and so the National Federation of the Blind and many, many other organizations are in favor of the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act. This is HR 188 and it currently has 36 cosponsors. It is the same exact legislation that was called the mayor wages for workers with disabilities act. That piece of legislation was introduced over the last three Congresses.
And what this bill does is as soon as it is passed it will Department of Labor can no longer issue special wage certificates. And then after one year in for profit entity that holds a 14 C certificate will no longer be able to Tuesday. After two years any government agency that holds a special wage certificate will not be able to use it. And then after three years a non profit entity that holds a 14 C certificate will not be able to Tuesday. But it is important to keep in mind here that 95% of all 14 C certificate holding entities are non profit so almost every entity that would be affected by this legislation has three full years to transition their business model.
And again, transition is a very key word here. You know, we’re not saying oh, just shut your doors tomorrow because again we’re saying that could have some really bad unintended consequences. We know that transition is possible. We know it’s possible because as Sam was saying there’s an executive order out there that said people with disabilities have to be paid in this case $10.10 an hour. And that’s going just fine. We’ve seen a statement from Goodwill, Goodwill is probably one of the entities that is most in favor of Section 14 C, but they’ve even said themselves that two thirds of their entities do not utilize 14 C certificates. So most of them are doing the right thing. So again, transition is possible. We can still achieve the goals of employing people with disabilities without a Section 14 C certificate.
And finally, there’s a Vermont conversion institute that happens every other year in Vermont, and the idea of this conversion institute is to bring people together who are really interested in this topic. So entities that maybe have already transitioned so they can teach entities that are interested in transitioning how to do it effectively. Both Kurt and Sam mentioned funding and I’ve read some studies that say that Section 14 C subminimum wage, it costs more, you know, there’s the Medicaid dollars, there’s the voc rehab dollars as they were saying involved in this but it actually produces less. So when you’re dealing with a subminimum wage sheltered environment, it costs a lot more but you’re getting a lot less whereas if you you know when you take the time to invest in a job coach or a customized employment, it costs less up front and the person with a disability ends up making more money in the end.
I also just want to mention that, you know, we’ve both of them discussed VIOWA and they specifically were talking about Section 511 but another thing that VIOWA did is it created a committee and this is a committee integrated and competitive employment and increasing integrated and competitive employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities this committee has met twice already and their next meeting is coming up in early May so the VIOWA is really taking this idea seriously that people with disabilities really do need integrated and competitive employment opportunities and the committee is talking about best ways to ensure that these opportunities can be open to people with disabilities.
So that wraps up my presentation. At this point, Diane, I’m either going to send it to you or just open the floor for questions.
>> Diane: Before we leave to questions, and that is really what we want to do with the rest of the time, let me just first of all thank all three of you for your incredible work, for the progress that’s been made and for laying out some of the things that people can be engaged in. Because Jessica is not able to be on this call, I wanted to encourage everyone who is to be sure before you sign out later to go to the announcement and click the registration form so that she’ll know that you were here. And with that let me open it to questions. We have a little less than 15 minutes before our captioner has to leave. And if you have muted yourself remember to press star six to un mute yourself.
>> Hi folks, this is Lance Kilpatrick returning. How are you?
>> I just wanted to ask, what other states do you see potentially pursuing the same legislation as New Hampshire did?
>> Kurt, do you think you could answer that one? I think you made a statement about progress I have statements states.
>> Kurt: Yes. As Rose said there are a couple states that actually I know Maine for example has no sheltered workshops. I don’t think they have a statute so there is this and like Vermont we have states that are moving forward. There was an attempt in Arizona and that caused a great hue hah there with not a very successful outcome. I know that Virginia was on the phone. I think Maryland is looking at this as a possible (indiscernible) but I think we’re still at the very beginning and I think New Hampshire is now going to be a great example in terms of what states can do if they come together and move forward. So again, I thought it was interesting in there that there doesn’t seem to be anybody at the time who was paying sub minimum wage stow might be an easier sell when you get into a state who has a pretty robust system there’s probably going to be a lot of pushback so that’s going to be some heavy lifting but I think it’s a very good strategy to try. One thing I didn’t say was it was pretty interesting when we were working with the larger civil rights community about the issue of minimum wage, raising the minimum wage, how shocked they were to find out that there were all these people with disabilities getting subminimum wage. They couldn’t believe it. They just didn’t think that that happened in this country. So even if you’re not successful in getting a state statute, just a discussion so that people know that this in fact exists. This has been a pretty well kept secret for 60, 70 years that I think we need to pull we need to let people know that this is actually happening. That’s when you start to get some real movement.
>> Rose: I was just going say to add onto that I know California also attempted to pass some legislation some legislation that didn’t even have very much, you know, strength at all but it also failed because the other side that providers were just more organized in this case than the disability community was but I’ve not heard yet if there’s going to be a reintroduction or not but I will keep everyone updated if I do find out any more information on that.
>> I would love to get a copy of the legislation to see if someone can’t separate it along the way in the state of.
>> George: Which needs it terribly.
>> Rose: Sure. I think it’s an avenue for us to share that and one of my colleagues from South Carolina just asked, you know, to see the language as well for similar reasons and when I sent him the information I sent him both bills, the Beth that created the ability and also the bill that repealed the state law that allows entities to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage.
>> Thank you.
>> Another issue go ahead.
>> The other question I wanted to ask because I do work in an agency that supports people with developmental disabilities, and I’m you know, there’s tons of sheltered workshops in this state and I’m just wondering what the position of some larger organizations are like Amcor and some of the national organizations that might be able to put downward pressure on the state or, you know, the provider entities that belong to stop this practice.
>> Kurt: That’s a great question. I think there is movement in some of the national associations that have members who do run sheltered workshops and it’s a real mixed bag. You’ll find for example the United Cerebral Palsy, some of their members do run sheltered workshops but it also happens when there are named plaintiffs in Oregon was the local UCP chapter who in that state didn’t have a sheltered workshop so (indiscernible) I know has a lot of their members transitioning away from sheltered workshops so there is downward pressure from the national organizations. Clearly they have to be careful about their members and, you know, how they work with their various affiliates but I do think we have made major in roads with people thinking this is not (indiscernible) way of doing business, this is not where we want to be, you know, it’s obviously difficult to unravel some of the other funding and (indiscernible) business model. We just had a first initial meeting with Goodwill and Easter Seals to start talking about, you know, where there might be some common ground and I think those conversations who knows where they’ll go but my sense is that people have sort of gotten through that first level of denial that this is not the way to go. Now the next step will be to get people to really start making some significant and concrete changes.
>> Thank you.
>> This is David. A quick question I have, we’ve been trying to work on a collaborative process with stakeholders across the state of Maryland and I think it’s been making a lot of momentum but one of the things we get pushback on was discussed earlier on the call from providers and parents, what will happen to people who cannot transition into integrated employment at a competitive wage and that’s one of the big things is, you know, the unintended consequences and it would be really helpful for me to know, you know, we’ve talked about volunteer work, more integrated options that people would have. Because, you know, from our perspective and the perspective of a lot of the self advocacy groups in our state, these things aren’t really jobs if you’re being paid 5 cents an hour. It’s still a meaningless day. We want to look at what are some of the options we request explore and how do we build that infrastructure so if anyone on the call could speak to that, that would be really helpful for us to know.
>> Kurt: This is Kurt. Obviously a sick track and then yield to my colleagues. First of all I would start maybe at a more positive level. And I think there will be situations, I think there will be situations where people with significant disabilities may not actually end up in the competitive market but there are a couple of things out there that I think are happening. One, I think it’s a bad expectation. So I do think that one of the things that everybody at the state level has to do is spend some energy changing the expectation of families and of people with disabilities themselves about what they’re able to do and I think that is one of the major kind of nonspecific or non tangible issues that’s out there, oh, all of these people, where will they go, what can they do so I think we’ve got start there.
Secondly there’s some interesting research going on. I think Martin perry is doing some job matching trying to, you know, work with someone to find out what they can do, not what they can’t do. And as you know in sheltered workshops often if a contract comes in and if it’s a contract for shredding, everybody shreds regardless of whether you have good mobility or manual dexterity, everyone’s a shredder. So trying to match people with their skills and their jobs, maybe it’s a way of expanding opportunities for people. And as you mentioned we’re going to have to make sure that they have where some people may end up is another segregated, isolated situation so that will be a challenge but I just feel like with four or 500,000 people in sheltered workshops right now, let’s get two or 300,000 out into competitive employment and then that way we’ll work with the folks that are left to see what kind of options they may have.
>> Rose: The only thing I would add to that and all of those are ways, you know, to try to bring in peer mentors so bring in people with disabilities who already have jobs and just have them explain, you know, what they do on a day to day basis and, you know, the more that person looks like the population that you are working with, you know, maybe it will help some light bulb go off and it will help raise the expectations for the people with disabilities and those who work with them.
>> Kurt: I certainly agree. Go ahead.
>> Go ahead, Kurt, and I’ll jump in half wards.
>> Kurt: No, no, I’m sorry. Go ahead.
>> Another model that is similar to the job matching work that Kurt was pointing out is job carving and customized employment. And that’s a case in which, for example, you evaluate what a person can do, and it’s possible that that doesn’t exist it doesn’t really match any existing job in a community but through working with employers we can end up finding a way to sort of carve out a job that the person can do we often see this in the case of jobs where for example let’s say someone’s a secretary and the employer assumes that the secretary will be both answering the phone and filing whereas maybe a person is very good at filing but not answering phones. So you have someone who can basically carve out a little responsibility. And often employers end up being very happy to do this for a couple of reasons. One is often a person comes with a job coach or even sometimes with specialized technology. We’ve seen cases where a person basically had their own coffee, espresso machine and they could take it with them wherever they went so if you wanted to have a coffee shop at your bookstore you could just hire a person and wouldn’t also have to buy a coffee maker.
And then in addition employers find that when they hire people with disabilities, even for these sorts of job carving arrangements, they get workers who are extremely dependable and loyal and often will stay there for quite a long time with little turnover. So it’s often a good business case there’s a good business case for it.
>> Thank you.
>> Excuse me. This is Sheryl from NDRN and I just wanted to kind of add something from a more practical on the ground perspective in terms of the fact that there’s a lot of resources and programs that are out there today that aren’t being utilized that would work very well for a lot of people with disabilities and those are things like apprenticeship training programs through the Department of Labor and on the job training programs, and there’s a lot and a multitude of others which I think people tend to look just at vocational rehabilitation and what can be or what will (indiscernible) and they’re not the only came in town so I think we need to look at the whole as Kurt said the whole employability of people and look at all the tools in the toolbox, not limit ourselves to just the services that we’ve typically relied on which we know aren’t working well.
>> Diane: This is Diane. We’re at the end of our hour and I really want to thank everybody for just a really great information and encouragement really about how we can make a difference on this huge and important issue both at the state and national level. So I would like to encourage everyone to continue the dialogue on both our Facebook and Yahoo group options for the Organizer’s Forum. And again, please register using the flinching the announcement to this call.
So thanks again to everybody and we will see you hopefully again on the third Tuesday at 1:00 next month.
>> Thanks, Diane. Thanks, everyone.
>> Thank you.
>> Thank you.
(End of call)
This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.