Apprenticeships Help People with Disabilities – but not in Seattle

Great News for Job Development and Training with Apprenticeships – but unfortunately, not in Seattle.

I have been an advocate of apprenticeship programs for many years – not just for those with disabilities but for everyone who would be interested in this type of training to develop job skills.

The US Department Labor Department – Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has contracted with Social Policy Research Associates (SPR)  to develop up to four pilot apprenticeship worksites.  One of these sites is Apprenti in Redmond, WA.

(see the article from SHRM regarding an announcement of this program.)

Unfortunately, there has been recent legislation in Seattle which prohibits people with Disabilities to work as an “apprentice, learner or messenger” – regardless of the pay.  This discriminatory legislation was instituted by the work of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities and the Office of Labor Standards.

The rule change and subsequent legislation were rushed through a process without conversations and collaboration with those in our community.  There were violations of the First Amendment by the Seattle Commission which greatly impacted the outcome of this legislation.

There was little insight into how this rule change would affect those who were actually impacted and the wording in the new law (which was to remove discriminatory practices) actually is more discriminatory by the current wording.

Below is the wording of the legislation for SHRR 90-050 – Learners, apprentices, messengers, workers with a disability from the Seattle Office of Labor Standards Minimum Wage Rules. 

2. Issuance of special certificates

  • a. The Director may issue special certificates to pay a subminimum wage for learners, apprentices, and messengers as described in RCW 49.46.060
  • b. The Director shall not issue special certificates to pay a subminimum wage for people with disabilities as described in RCW 49.46.060.

Apprenti – Redmond, WA –  indicates that their training wage at least 60% of fully-qualified regular employees; then a  raise to at least 70% and after 6 months, at-will.   If this is the case with this pilot program, no employees in Seattle will be able to participate due to the legislation regarding people with disabilities.

Again,  issues such as this could have been alleviated if the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities allowed discourse with community self-advocates and other disability advocates who were affected.

If the haste of this rule change and subsequent legislation had been made public and shared, if the Commission had allowed discussions to take place, if the Commission had listened to what the community members were saying, we could have had a law written that did not discriminate against those with disabilities.

The Commission for People with Disabilities, of all Commission, should be responsive to the needs of the disabled community.  In this situation, they were not and ended up taking away choices for those they are to serve.

 

Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary (Bureau of Labor Statistics – United States Department of Labor)

see post “Haste Makes Waste – Seattle Style” for more information on this issue

Endorsing a Bully

Disability Rights Washington is presenting their “Breaking Barriers” awards fundraiser this month.  Below is information from the Disability Rights Washington Website which describes this award.

Ex-Commissioner (Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities) Shaun Bickley, was chosen as the recipient for the Advocacy Award.  There are many of us in the disability community who have been victims of Shaun Bickley’s online malicious and cruel attacks, slander and libel.  We are upset about Bickley’s violations of the First Amendment as a Commissioner, falsified data and information Bickley presented to the Commission, the previous Mayor, the previous Director of the  Office of Labor Standards and the Seattle City Council.

In addition to the above allegations (all well documented in public records), Bickley had extreme disregard for the by-laws and code of conduct of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities.  In fact, after Mayor Durkan did not re-appoint Bickley to the Commission, Bickley took it upon himself to return to the Commission the next month and have himself voted in as the co-chair with a Commission appointed seat.  Bickley continues to refer to himself as the Co-Chair of the Commission despite not being appointed by the City Council.  This is a violation of the by-laws but evidently, Bickley is not held accountable to those by-laws.

“Bully”  is the least offensive description that many who have encountered Shaun Bickley use to describe his actions towards others.

How has it come to be that a BULLY is being honored as a recipient of this “Breaking Barriers” award?

 2018 DRW Breaking Barriers Awards! 

September 29, 2018

Each year, Disability Rights Washington presents its Breaking Barriers Awards.  These prestigious awards honor a business, an elected official or public servant, and an advocate with a disability for breaking barriers to advance the rights of and improve the lives of people with disabilities in Washington State. Specifically, Disability Rights Washington will present the following awards:

  • Advocacy Award
  • Public Policy Award
  • Business Leader Award

Advocacy Award

Disability Rights Washington presents this award to an advocate with a disability who has made significant contributions in the past year to advance the rights of people with disabilities in Washington State.

Breaking Barriers 2018 - Shaun Bickley

 

Haste Makes Waste – Seattle Style

Seattle has been played by a disability activist who has worked extremely hard to have legislation passed that removed the use of special certificates for people with disabilities.  While this may seem like a great step forward in the name of social justice, in reality, it has caused people to lose employment hours and discriminates against people with disabilities by limiting choices and alternatives.

The old saying “haste makes waste” was very evident in the process that has occurred.  Information from concerned and involved stakeholders was blocked which made it impossible to collaborate with the Commission and the Office of Labor Standards with regards to the rule change. Several City of Seattle staffers questioned the urgency of the issue but continued to push this along at the rapid-fire rate the activist was insisting upon.

When the voices of those directly involved are silenced and actions are taken without their input, violations occur.  This is an all too common theme in issues related to those with disabilities – particularly those with intellectual/developmental disabilities.  It’s even more frustrating when this rebuff is done by a Commission that is there to advocate with and for those with disabilities.

This transcript sums up fairly well the response that I received to any inquiry or concern.  The Co-Chair alleges that I harassed and stalked him in addition to many other fabricated stories of what I have done.  This conversation was between a disabled community advocate and the Co-Chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities.   transcript between Cheryl Felak and Shaun Bickley May 2018

The law, as now written, actually discriminates against people with disabilities who would be able to get a job as “an apprentice, learner or messenger.” 

It is costly and time-consuming to hire and train anyone and employers may be even more wary of hiring a person with an intellectual/developmental disability.  Having the option of using a special certificate for a limited amount of time as a trial is an alternative that actually could have provided an opportunity for both employers and employees to “try out” a job without out a full investment for something they may not be sure would work out for either of them.  Having a time limit to the special certificate is a protection for the employee.

According to the Policy Manager of the Office of Labor Standards, the Minimum Wage ordinance prohibits our office from approving a special certificate  for any individual who meets the criteria of “an individual whose earning capacity is impaired by age or physical or mental deficiency or injury” regardless of the individual’s occupation.

It also needs to be noted that the Commission did not contact the City of Seattle Supported Employment Program for any information regarding supported employment.  The City of Seattle is recognized as a “best practice” and has received many awards for the work they do.  Supported Employment Brief Overview_2018 describes the City of Seattle Supported Employment program.

Some excerpts from City of Seattle Supported Employment Overview:

We customize each job by bundling a variety of entry-level duties into positions that individually match candidates’’ skills, which also allows your other employees to maximize their time.  The supported Employment program’s hallmark is its ability to design effective positions that adapt to individual human and organizational needs.

Job coaches provide training and coaching “support’ as needed for the supported employee.  Job coaches are a valuable resource for the entire workplace of a supported employee, and are available at no cost to an employer who hires a supported employee.  Coaches are dispatched from local community agencies that serve the employment-related needs of people with developmental disabilities.

How did the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities totally ignore this program and employees?  One reason is that the Commission refused to communicate with anyone that had concerns or questions about their push for a rule change and legislation.

It’s too late now to change the law in Seattle but there is time to stop this activist from going statewide with this and causing more harm.

Seattle Minimum Wage and People with Disabilities describes some of the deceit, lies, and violations of the First Amendment practiced by The Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities in pursuing the law to eliminate special certificates.

If you are approached by Shaun Bickley (@lLeftistAutist on Twitter) to sign on to the campaign he has posted or circulated – please think it through and understand what is missing in this campaign – mainly planning, transition, funding, collaboration and sustainability for disabled employees and our community.

Shaun Bickley campaign to end subminimum wage in Washington State July 2018

 

I got the city to ban subminimum wage

 

 

Abled/Disabled Division

Many recent issues with regards to advocacy are termed with the labels of “abled” or “disabled”.  This really strikes me as very odd, particularly given that so many have rebuked being “labeled” in the past so readily label others.

“Nothing About Us, Without Us” and “Did you even ask disabled people who would be affected”  are two of the most common statements from disabled self-advocates.

I have also found that one is labeled “abled” with no regard to disability – but it tends to mean a person who does not agree with the “disabled” viewpoint.  From those who self-identify as “disabled”  (which from my observation has no bearing on if the person is disabled or not – I know some people with significant disabilities who would never self-identify as “disabled” because they are who they are) I have witnessed extreme judgements and strong biased opinions written that are based solely on fiction.  No facts or evidence are produced to support those judgements but they are sold to others as the truth.

Also, disabled activists may be very “abled” in comparison to others who are disabled – do these “abled”  disabled activists speak for every disabled person?  In my opinion, they do not and have no interest in learning about the needs and choices of those “more disabled” then they are.  How does one even measure disability when it is so varied from one environment to another?

The disadain, hate speech, extreme judgements of disabled activists against anyone they define as “abled” (again this has no bearing if the “abled” person has a disability or not since it is in the eye of the activist) borders on pathology – delusions and fabrications of actions they believe “abled” people have done – is something that needs to be addressed and called out.

Using the “disabled card” to get away with abusing others is not okay.  It only builds walls and barriers to collaboration. One such disabled activist in Seattle swears at, calls people “sociopaths” and makes up abuse by other disabled advocates if one has a difference of opinion.  People say “he’s disabled” as if that excuses this behavior.

These are just some of the reasons that I just have to laugh at the “Breaking Barriers” award given out by Disability Rights Washington – an annual award given in several categories.  The advocate award is given to someone with a disability for breaking barriers to advance the rights of and to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Obviously, my definition of justice and ‘breaking barriers” are very different than DRW’s definition.  They chose Shaun Bickley, the co-chair of the Seattle Disability Commission and the Secretary of Self-Advocates in Leadership (SAIL).  I totally agree that this person is very committed to his activist role but I also question his ability to build bridges and work collaboratively with others who may not totally agree with his opinion and deceit.

In addition, the issue of the elimination of special certificates which allowed people with disabilities to be able to be employed at less than the minimum wage has proven to be harmful to those involved – Mr Bickley is receiving this award for his successful campaign to ban these certificates.  This is discrimination against those with disabilities and prevents them from having jobs as learners, apprentices or messengers.

Missing – Common Sense

This is been a year long battle with The Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities regarding their rapid elimination of special certificates that can allow specific people with specific disabilities to work at a specific job for a wage that may be less than the minimum wage.  While they are calling these certificates “discrimination”, the certificates  can actually provide people with an alternative for community integration that they may not have now.
This Commission and those organizations that have signed onto this thought process believing that just raising the wages will enhance these people’s lives have forgotten to ask the affected people themselves.  Some very important information regarding critical issues that people with disabilities who have significant support needs and how those needs are going to be accommodated have not been addressed.
This is the fallout of making laws without collaboration and without addressing the concerns of those who are directly involved.  The Commission refused to address a variety of concerns from stakeholders saying that those concerns didn’t matter and had nothing to do with the certificates or elimination of sub-minimum wage.
The facts are very different – there were 8 employees in Seattle who were making a sub-minimum wage  –   6 were at Ballard Locks making between $9.00 and $10.50 an hour and 2 other employees at community sites who earned  $11.01 and $11.25 an hour.  (The Commission reported extremely inaccurate information via a press release stating that there were “at least 130 disabled workers in the city of Seattle making subminimum wage, most making under $1.60/hr.  The lowest-paid worker under these exemptions in Seattle makes 20 cents an hour”   SCPWD Press Release June 22 2017
The totally false information The Commission released to the press (and previously to the former Mayor and Councilmember Herbold) was discovered as a mistake by the then co-chair of The Commission.  This error was pointed out to the person of contact on the Press Release who refused to issue a correction.  The author stated – press release already went out, if we receive follow up we can discuss that with those people.  He also stated that he would believe the documents he got from Department of Labor over what someone told him.  Unfortunately, this person was not able to read the document from DOL correctly and made this huge mistake in numbers of employees and their wages.  Commission will not amend press release
This is how the Commission responds to those who questioned their numbers:
April 13 2018 second chance from Commission - spam and deliberately false information
Before this issue goes any further under such faulty research and data collection, stop and listen to those whose lives were and will be directly affected by these changes.
I continue to ask the Commission about accountability and transparency – they feel threatened and harassed by me and want to have me banned from Commission meetings.
Maybe the Commissioners should actually read some of the comments I have shared and read the research and documents they presented regarding recommendations.  While doing that, they should research what has happened in those other states who have changed their laws – are the people working, have their lives improved?  These are all issues that need to be addressed before more action is taken.

Email from Shaun Bickley regarding City Council – do not share

The Seattle Disability Commission is proud to be among the first organizations to call for an end to Washington’s exemption to minimum wage laws, which allow employers to pay disabled people, and only disabled people, less than minimum wage.

A current copy of the letter can be found here: https://docs.google.com/…/1cCT_IL6I3HLcmYKdK5QhdNamqQ…/edit…

If your business or organization (operating in the state of Washington) would like to be added, please email sbickley@arcofkingcounty.org . Text is below:

We, the undersigned organizations, oppose the practice of paying workers with disabilities subminimum wage. On April 13, 2018, Seattle joined the states of Alaska, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maryland, in ending the outdated practice of allowing subminimum wage employment of people based on their disabilities. We do not believe workers should be discriminated against on the basis of disability and join the growing coalition advocating for an end to state laws that allow such discrimination.

We believe all workers should be fairly compensated and are entitled to the same minimum wage protections regardless of their disability status. We hope the State of Washington will join other states and cities in taking the lead to put an end to this unfair employment practice.

Sincerely,

Able Opportunities, Inc.
Allies in Advocacy
The Arc of King County
The Arc of Snohomish County
ASUW Student Disability Commission
AtWork!
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network
Community Employment Alliance
Disability Rights Washington
Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC)
Geeks Without Bounds
Morningside
National Federation of the Blind of Washington
Open Doors for Multicultural Families
People First of Snohomish County
People First of Washington
Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities
Seattle LGBTQ Commission
Self Advocates in Leadership (SAIL)
Sherwood Community Services
TASH
Washington ADAPT
Washington CAN
Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
Working Washington
Work Opportunities

Did he say what I think he said?

The response that I have gotten from many people who have listened to the abuse that the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities spewed at me after their last meeting (May 17, 2018) is “Did he say what I think he said?”

YES – Hear for yourself – if you are offended by this encounter (this was the first “in-person” conversation that I had with this person) please write to any or all of the following people or agencies.

It doesn’t matter if one is a volunteer or not, disabled or not – as a representative of a City and Community Commission, one needs to uphold the duties of the office.

Mayor Jenney Durkan photo

Seattle City Council May 2018

Contact City Council

Seattle Boards and Commission Home page

Contact Boards and Commissions

Seattle Office for Civil Rights

Contact Office for Civil rights

Seattle Office of Civil Rights Commissions

Contact Seattle Disability Commission

If you would like to read a history of the questions and concerns that were excluded from any discussion on the legislation which eliminated choice and alternatives for those with significant disabilities, here is the document sent to the Office of Civil Rights (per their request) to receive answers to.

Questions to PwD Commission that need to be answered

Next Post will discuss the issues of the Office of Labor Standards and comments received regarding the rule change in September 2017.