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

Cease & Desist Letter”

I received a “Cease & Desist Letter” from Shaun Bickley two days ago.  One more attempt of his to bully and refuse to be accountable for his actions.  He had already filed a petition for an anti-harassment order against me so I’m not quite sure what the purpose of the “Cease & Desist Letter” was.

I’m looking forward to going to court to defend myself against accusations of harassment, lies and stalking by one certain co-commissioner of Seattle Commision for People with Disabilities.  I’m very sorry that this person does not seem to understand the role of a public office and believes that when a constituent asks questions, voices concerns, requests clarification or desires to be involved in the decision making process  – it is not harassment or abuse but active participation that is encouraged by our laws.

My questions are not to this co-commissioner directly or personally other than the fact that he is the one who has been answering.  As far as I’m concerned any member of the Commission could provide the information but no one has stepped up to do that.  This Commissioner could also delegate communication with me to another person.  It doesn’t matter to me who answers the questions but that they are at least addressed and answered.

It’s very interesting to me that this person cites my legal access to public records and research as issues of harassment.  He claims the recording I made at a public meeting and witnessed by several others in the room was a “private conversation” and illegal.  It’s also interesting to note that in the supporting documents with the petition is a declaration from another Commissioner describing the events of the conversation on May 17, 2018 which are clearly not what occurred when one listens to the recording.

Washington State law allows one to use sound and video recording devices at public meetings unless they disrupt the orderly conduct of the meeting.   That is what I did and I’m glad I did because it provides proof of the actions and language used by this individual.  We don’t have to rely on hearsay by those who have been brainwashed by his tactics, we can hear for ourselves and make our own opinion about the conversation.

This person has a public office and is under the sames rules and regulations as any representative of a public agency (RCW 42.30.020)  and the agency has a duty to promptly record and provide meeting minutes for public review (RCW 42.30.030).     It doesn’t matter if the person is a volunteer or a paid public servant – they are all accountable to state laws and regulations.

RCW 42.30.020 – Legislative declaration states:

The legislature finds and declares that all public commissions, boards, councils, committees, subcommittees, departments, division, offices, and all other public agencies of this state and subdivisions thereof exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business.  It is the intent of this chapter that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.

The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve the.  The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.  the people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.

Holding our public servants (volunteer or paid) accountable to their duties is not abuse and harassment – it is doing our duty as a citizens.
My assumption of why this behavior has been allowed to go on so long after so many people have complained to the city government about the abuse, harassment and bullying practiced by this co-chair is that they are afraid he will sue for discrimination if he is reprimanded or let go.   That’s probably the case that he would file a lawsuit but is that reason to allow these actions to continue?  Not in my opinion.
 Forgot to add that this person is one of the recipients of the Disability Rights Washington “Breaking Barriers” awards.  So not only do we not hold people accountable, we give them honors for their abuse and harassment.

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.

Shameful Seattle – CENSORED

Seattle Commission for PwD - please be accountableToday, Mayor Durkan, signed into law that Seattle has eliminated special certificates for disabled people to work for less than minimum wage.  Sounds like a great idea to encourage people to hire those with disabilities – that is, until you know the truth behind this legislation and the misinformation that was used to push it forward and make others believe it was the right thing to do.

While I fully support equal wages for equal work – regardless if one is disabled or not – I have great concerns about the lack of understanding of the complex issues involved in this legislation.  For the people affected by this legislation, community integration is as important, if not more important, than the wage they earn.

The Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities has so far been only mendacious in their replies to questions.  Also, as I was in the process of writing this post, I have again been blocked from the public Facebook Page for Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities.  Again, they refused to answer the questions and censored discussions.  Seattle PWD Censorship

 

Seattle Commission for PWD needs to be accountable and answer the questions.  Threats and accusations do not show accountability for decisions you have made.

Mayor Durkan was totally unable to answer the questions asked at the end of the press conference – either she knows the answer and is too embarrassed to say or she has no clue and bases her information on the lies she has been told by the commission.

 

 

Seattle has rapid elimination of sub-minimum wage

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda – thank you for the concern you have for our community members with disabilities. While I understand this has just passed into law, I believe there was some very critical information that was left out, not addressed and misrepresented by members of the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities .

The first issue is that these certificates are not “general purpose” to allow any employer to pay a person less than the minimum wage just because that person has a disability. They were for specific employers for specific employees for specific jobs. Generally, they are used for people with complex and often intellectual disabilities. It is an fact that those with intellectual disabilities, just be definition of the disability itself, may not be as productive as a person with a different type of disability – such as autism. Autism is NOT an intellectual disability but it is a developmental disability. This issue is one that the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities has failed to acknowledge and understand.

The second thing is that for people working in these job, they tend to work 10 hours or less a week and most often have a job coach to assist them in their job. The job coach may be 1:1 or only check in occasionally – depending on the support needs of the disabled person. The funding for the job coach is typically paid for through the Developmental Disabilities Administration through the counties. Without a job coach, many of these people would not be able to get and maintain employment.

One example of this is the issue of my son. He does work in a supported integrated employment setting within Seattle. He does earn a bit more than the minimum wage and works 9 hours a week with a 1:1 job coach. The vocational vendor agency is paid $2700 per month to provide the job coach for his 9 hours of work a week. If for some reason a job coach is sick or on vacation and they cannot get a sub, my son is not able to go to work that day.

For people like my son, they are not working at these jobs for their sole income and they all tend to live in poverty. They most likely receive SSI which will be reduced from the $750.00 to something less based on their earned income. Due to the earned wages my son makes, his SSI is reduced to $532.00. He then needs to pay rent, utilities, food, household necessities, clothes, healthcare supplies not covered by insurance, and other necessities of daily life out of his SSI and earned wages.

People like my son (who needs to have 1:1 supervision during all waking hours) are generally linked with several agencies, family members, friends (natural supports) a healthcare team, community members and paid support staff to navigate daily life. It is collaborative web that can work very well – until someone tweaks one part without working with the rest of the team and it can then all fall apart.

For instance, my son lives in supported living with 3 other disabled young adults. Luckily, their agency does provide a reliable van for them to use but they need to coordinate transportation based on the residents schedules. They are the ones who transport my son back and forth to work each morning since my son needs 1:1 hand off from his support staff to his job coach – Access bus is not an option – nor is any type of public transportation.

It’s extremely unfortunate that the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities did little research on this issue and how it impacts the lives of those how work in these jobs. I have asked repeatedly for the research and the Commission has refused to provide it – but continues to refer to this non-existent research. I did provide the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities with links to a report from the National Council on Disabilities which had clear outlines for a transition from sub-minimum wage to integrated employment and their timeline was from 2-10 years. Not a rapid, sudden elimination of certificates.

I also provided another very useful resource from the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation which had very useful discussions and resources on how to encourage and create integrated work for those with significant intellectual disabilities. Again, this looked at a period of transition and planning for funding to be stable and sustainable for the required job skill building and training of job coaches.

I do not believe that either of these extremely useful and national resources were even discussed at a commission meeting because their decision had been made and any information from a person who did not agree totally with the proposed agenda by the Commission.   The Commission has stated many times that there was unanimous opinions regarding the elimination plan by disabled people and advocates denying the fact that there were many who had a different opinion.
Regarding other states who do not use certificates:

New Hampshire did not have any businesses using the certificates but updated their policies to officially end the practice if they were used. The minimum wage in New Hampshire just $7.25 an hour and disabled people can be paid less if part of an approved work training program.

According to the NH Developmental Services Employment Data Report – the average number of hours worked a week is 11 and the average weekly pay is $92.73. More than 50% of the jobs are 2-9 hours per week.

A case study of the transition from sheltered workshops to integrated employment of disabled people in Maine done by the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management highlighted the fact that when people leave the sheltered workshop, many work fewer hours per week and make less money than if they remained in the sheltered workshop.

Alaska recently banned the subminimum wage. Robert Dinerstein, a law professor at American University and director of the schools’ Disability Rights Law Clinic believes that Alaska will be able to accomplish an integrated work force by giving workers a job coach who goes to work with the person for the first month to help them “learn the ropes.” Evidently this professor does not understand the fact that some people may need the 1:1 support to remain employed – it’s not a “learn the ropes” and then on their merry, independent way.

Maryland has a 4 year phase out of “sheltered workshops” which they hope to have completed by 2020. The plan involves moving people from sheltered workshops to competitive integrated employment. Each individual making less than minimum wage will receive an individual plan for the phase out.

According to the United States Department of Labor “Subminimum wages must be commensurate wage rates – based on the worker’s individual productivity, no matter how limited, in proportion to the wage and productivity of experienced workers who do not have disabilities performing essentially the same type, quality, and quantity of work in the geographic area from which the labor force of the community is drawn. ”

The documentary “Bottom Dollars” by Disability Rights Washington and Rooted in Rights states “If people are given the proper services and supports and proper assistive technology, the sky is the limit for many, many individuals.” This I believe to be true but there is a big IF and that included funding needs to provide supports and sustain them. Did the Commission for PwD look at these issues?

Please ask the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities  about the research they have done and the transition plan they have developed for our citizens in Seattle.

Seattle Outlaws Subminimum Wage

Council votes to eliminate sub-minimum wage

Seattle bans lower wages

DD Ombudsman – Washington State

I have had contact with the new Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombudsman in Washington State.  This is a critical organization for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be aware of regarding any concerns pertaining to their care and services received.  It is especially important for those who live in the State Operated Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) since these residents have no other objective advocate to review their concerns or complaints.

DD Ombuds logo

With that being said, I do have some reservations about reporting concerns to the DD Ombudsman.  The Protection & Advocacy Agency (Disability Rights Washington) which has been very vocal with their agenda of closing the ICFs, is the independent non-profit agency that was awarded the contract to administer the DD Ombudsman Program.  The Region 3 Ombudsman (Noah Sidel) was the previous Self-Advocacy Coordinator with The Arc of Washington working with Self Advocates in Leadership (SAIL) and has testified many times to legislative committees with the position that the ICFs need to be closed.

Given the history, it is very difficult to trust that the above biased agendas will not be pushed forward by the DD Ombuds office if concerns of those residing in the ICFs are reported.  I know that ICF residents and families have been reluctant to make any complaints regarding concerns out of fear their complaints will be used as “proof” that the ICF needs to be closed.   The history is that rather than looking at the problem and fixing it, the problem is used as a reason to close the ICF.

The problem is that when residents of state operated facilities make allegations the investigations are done by non-objective, state employees.  Many times these investigators are not healthcare providers and are not able to assess if the care provided met the community standard of care (medical and nursing care to be specific).  Once the Residential Care Services (under the Department of Health and Human Services) the facility administration or the State Investigative Unit have “investigated” and made their report, there is no ability to appeal or have an outside, non-DSHS employee review the allegations.

If state law were followed with regards to medical and nursing care of these residents, the oversight of the care would be provided by the Department of Health.  The management of nursing care and practice would be done by Registered Nurses – not non-nurse administrators.  Complaints regarding nursing or medical care would be reviewed by healthcare professionals not investigators who are not licensed healthcare providers.

These are systemic problems that need to be addressed.  My hope is that by bringing these critical problems to the attention of the DD Ombudsman, appropriate legislation will be written which will bring the oversight of the healthcare of residents in the ICF in compliance with the Washington State Law.

Below are some letters that describe the allegations and specific State Laws which were allegedly violated.  My intention regarding this information is so that these systemic problems are identified and corrected.  I support a full continuum of care and the ICF is a critical part of that continuum.  This information is not to be used in the agenda of closure but to address the issue of quality care and appropriate oversight of healthcare.
document for DD Ombuds

letter to Mr. Hakim regarding systemic issues of healthcare neglect at Fircrest

Letter to Senator Keiser regarding issues at Fircrest and DD Ombudsman 2017

Systemic Errors in Medication Administration at Fircrest

ODDO-Advisory-Committee-Meeting-Minutes-9.16.17

DD-Ombuds-Annual-Report-2017-Final

DD Stakeholder Survey for DD Ombudsman

We need to provide choices – not restrictions

Please view the video which highlights the need for choices and options in our efforts to provide services and appropriate care and homes for those who live with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  This is one example of many that need to be options allowed and promoted.