As a sponsor of HB 1706 I am writing you this email with information regarding the discrimination of this bill by denying the opportunity of any disabled person to work as an apprentice, learner or messenger. By eliminating the special certificates for people with disabilities, the other jobs are also denied. Apprenticeship, learners and messengers can be great jobs for people with certain disabilities and it’s shameful to deny those choices.
As stated in the documentary “Bottom Dollars” produced by Disability Rights Washington and Rooted in Rights – “If people are given the proper services and supports and proper assistive technology, the sky is the limit for many, many individuals” I truly believe this – unfortunately, HB 1706 does not address any of the issues of support – just the wage. Do not pass HB 1706 until all the issues are addressed and planned as is recommended in research by national agencies.
Supported Employment is great – it can open up many opportunities for people. It needs funding to be successful and this bill does not address the issue of supporting funds for job coaches, job development, job training or transition planning. It only looks at eliminating the special certificates. Eliminating special certificates without addressing the critical issue of funding supported employment/integrated employment for this population will result in a crisis. This population is already involved in a crisis situation with lack of caregivers and supported living with many people stuck in hospitals with no place to go. Passing this bill at this time is not in the best interest of anyone.
It is interesting to note that not one research report of any advocacy agency recommends immediate elimination of certificates. A well planned and funded transition is needed for a stable and sustainable integrated supported employment opportunities. There is nothing in this bill that addresses any issues regarding transition. It has been stated that a rapid elimination would actually be detrimental to our population.
Elimination of special certificates without taking into consideration the other issues involved will only result in job loss. It will not increase the employment opportunities nor will it mean that those with disabilities will now make a living wage. When a person is only able to work 10 hours a week, minimum wage will not allow them to be self-supporting.
In Seattle, the legislation caused people to lose hours at their jobs. Yes, their wages increased but their hours decreased. For some of these people their job was also their opportunity to be integrated in the community – with the loss of hours, their community integration opportunity decreased too. A question asked in today’s public hearing by Representative Mosbruker was regarding an evaluation of what has happened in places that have eliminated the special certificate. This is a very critical question that also needs to be answered before moving forward. There is information available on this for New Hampshire, Maine and some other states – I would be more than happy to provide links to you.
In Seattle, there were 8 people who were working under a Special Certificate – 6 at Ballard Locks were working 5 hours a day had their hours cut to 3 hours a day, the person at Ballard Lutheran had her hours cut from 15 hours a week to 12 hours a week and the person at Ballard Market was working 6 hours a week and did not have hours cut but the manager express concern about being able to hire employees with significant intellectual/developmental disabilities in the future. It should be noted that none of these employees needed 1:1 job support for their jobs.
I did not hear anyone testify about the support needs for those involved in integrated employment or talk about the number of hours these employees may work a week or the coordination of supports (transportation, housing, personal needs support) needed to be employed. These are all critical issues that need discussion before a bill such as this is passed.
Again, as an example, my son who lives in Supported Living also has supported employment. He works 9 hours a week at Lowe’s and makes $16.59 an hour. This means that his gross wages are $597 per month. He also receives SSI which is reduced due to his wages so overall his income is roughly $900.00. He needs to pay rent, utilities, groceries and all living expenses from that $900.00.
The County (through DDA) pays the employment vendor about $2400.00 a month to provide the support to my son for his 1:1 job support. What have you heard about the funding for these integrated jobs for people like my son who needs 1:1 support to be employed in an integrated community setting? While the employer is paying the employee minimum wage, someone needs to pay the job coach or there is no job at all.
Please do not pass HB 1706 at this time. Yes, fair and equitable wages are important but in order to have fair and equitable wages in an integrated setting we need to look at the whole picture.
At the risk of continued personal assaults from one of the people testifying today, I feel obligated to inform people of the consequences of taking such rash actions without a full understanding and acknowledgement of the various issues involved in coordination of supports. It was not a collaborative process at all with Shaun Bickley (he was co-chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities) taking the helm and violating the First Amendment by censoring and blocking comments from constituents to the Seattle Commission and later writing libelous comments about others and most recently commiting fraud, conspiracy and interference with contractual relations with regards to my work as a registered nurse. This is all in retaliation against me for trying to have accountability and transparency in the process of the elimination of special certificates in Seattle.
I would be more than happy to provide information on national research regarding the issue of special certificates and special wages, integrated and supported employment and transition planning to ensure sustainability and success.
Thank you for your concern and attention to this critical issue.
The Arc of King County has a representative, known to harass and bully disabled community members and disability advocates speaking as a panelist at the upcoming National Council on Disability Quarterly meeting.
Why is the Arc of King County enabling this abusive person to continue in this role? Please contact the Arc of King County and ask why they encourage this type of behavior?
PLEASE NOTE CORRECTION SENT OCTOBER 22, 2018 FROM NCD REGARDING CALL-IN PHONE NUMBER – ALSO LIMITS ON PUBLIC COMMENTS – THEY ARE NOT TAKING COMMENTS ON EMPLOYMENT
We apologize for posting the incorrect call-in for tomorrow’s board meeting in our earlier email. Please note the change below.
NCD’s Council Members will meet tomorrow, October 23, in Jackson, MS, to receive presentations on its latest report, “New Deal to Real Deal: Joining the Industries of the Future,” including a consumer panel to discuss it. A lunch break will follow that panel. Following lunch, the Council will receive a series of presentations from a bioethics and disability panel on the topics of genetic testing and gene editing, organ transplant policy, the use of quality adjust life years to limit healthcare, and physician-assisted suicide. Following a brief break, the Council will next receive a presentation regarding involuntary institutionalization as a result of disasters. The meeting will then include a time for public comment on NCD’s bioethics topics, before concluding with a brief period for any unfinished business.
This meeting will occur in Jackson, Mississippi at the Hilton Garden Inn Jackson/Downtown, Triple C’s: Club, Crown, Coronet, 2nd Floor, 235 W Capitol Street, Jackson, MS 39201. Interested parties may join the meeting in person at the meeting location or may join by phone in a listening-only capacity (other than the period allotted for public comment noted below) using the following call-in information:
Teleconference number: 1-800-667-5617
Conference ID: 6973399
Conference Title: NCD Meeting
Host Name: Neil Romano.
A CART streamtext link has been arranged for this meeting. The web link to access CART on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 is:
Those who plan to attend the meeting in-person and require accommodations should notify NCD as soon as possible to allow time to make arrangements. To help reduce exposure to fragrances for those with multiple chemical sensitivities, NCD requests that all those attending the meeting in person refrain from wearing scented personal care products such as perfumes, hairsprays, and deodorants.
AGENDA: The times provided below are approximations for when each agenda item is anticipated to be discussed (all times Central):
Tuesday, October 23
9:00-9:15 a.m.–Welcome and introductions
9:15-9:45 a.m.–Executive reports
9:45-11:45 a.m.–“From the New Deal to the Real Deal: Joining the Industries of the Future” national disability employment policy and consumer panel
11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.–LUNCH BREAK
1:15-3:15 p.m.–Bioethics and disability policy panel
3:30-4:15 p.m.–Involuntary institutionalization as a result of disasters policy panel
4:15-4:45 p.m.–Town hall to receive comments about bioethics and disability (The five areas NCD is conducting research on include: organ transplants; medical futility; Quality Adjusted Life Years; physician assisted suicide; and genetic testing.)
4:45-5:00 p.m.–Unfinished business
NCD will receive public comments limited to those regarding NCD’s bioethics and disability research areas–organ transplants; medical futility; Quality Adjusted Life Years; physician assisted suicide; and genetic testing. To better facilitate NCD’s public comment, any individual interested in providing public comment is asked to register his or her intent to provide comment in advance by sending an email to PublicComment@ncd.gov with the subject line “Public Comment” with name, organization, state, and topic of comment included in the body of your email. Full-length written public comments may also be sent to that email address. All emails to register for public comment at the quarterly meeting must be received by 5 p.m, EDT, Tuesday, October 22, 2018. Priority will be given to those individuals who are in-person to provide their comments during the public comment period. Those commenters on the phone will be called on per the list of those registered via email. Due to time constraints, NCD asks all commenters to limit their comments to three minutes.
If you have any questions about this meeting of the Council, please contact Anne Sommers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tune in on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 at 7:45 AM to listen to the panel (CALL-IN NUMBER: 800-667-5617, Conference ID: 6973399; Conference Title: NCD Meeting; Host Name: Neil Romano) have a discussion regarding
National Disability Employment Policy, From the New Deal to the Real Deal:
Joining the Industries of the Future
I am anxious to hear the comments of Shaun Bickley, representing Arc of King County, regarding his activism in Seattle which led to the elimination of the special certificates.
I wonder how Bickley will address the fact that he withheld critical information from the City Officials, falsified information, negated the research and report done by the National Council on Disability, bullied and harassed other disability self advocates and community members, refused to allow public comment on city websites of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities or that 7 of the 8 employees in Seattle personally affected by this law had their work hours reduced.
Will Bickley be accountable to the problems that have been raised by community members?
I will be submitting a public comment – if you are so inclined to do so, the information from NCD is provided below.
PUBLIC COMMENT: To better facilitate NCD's public comment, any individual interested in providing public comment is asked to register his or her intent to provide comment in advance by sending an email to PublicComment@ncd.gov with the subject line ``Public Comment'' with your name, organization, state, and topic of comment included in the body of your email. Full-length written public comments may also be sent to that email address. All emails to register for public comment at the quarterly meeting must be received by Monday, October 22, 2018. Priority will be given to those individuals who are in-person to provide their comments during the public comment period. Those commenters on the phone will be called on per the list of those registered via email. Due to time constraints, NCD asks all commenters to limit their comments to three minutes. Comments received at the October quarterly meeting will be limited to those regarding NCD's bioethics and disability research areas--organ transplants; medical futility; Quality Adjusted Life Years; physician assisted suicide; and genetic testing.
Social Justice Activists in the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities are showing how little they understand about the lives and choices of people with complex and profound intellectual and developmental disabilities. With no planning in regards to transition for employees, employers, vocational training and job development, this commission has pushed for the rapid elimination of certificates which allow special wages for a certain population.
Specific employers to pay specific employees a specific wage for a specific job
These certificates are not a “catch-all” loop-hole to allow employers to pay any person with a disability less than the minimum wage. The commission leads people and legislators to believe that these certificates are easy to get and allow employers to exploit their employees. ACTIVISTS – PLEASE GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT
There is no “loop-hole” and there is no exploitation. There is choice and alternatives that are based on an individual’s person-centered planning. These activists have literally pulled the rug out from under those who were employed with this certificate and those in the future who would have benefitted from this choice. It is no longer available and there are no substitutes.
The people affected by this new law were working in integrated, community settings. These jobs were a route to inclusion and community. This is what people with disabilities and their advocates have been wanting. Things were working well for the employee with a disability, the employer, the community and the family/caregivers of the employees.
That is until the Commission threw a monkey wrench into the lives of people hthey do not know or understand. The Commission has greatly misinterpreted research on the issue, misinterprets the law behind the certificates and how they are used and totally disregards the choices of those most affected. The Commission has led community members and our City Council to believe these employees are exploited and has twisted the truth to outright lied about the situation in order to push his personal agenda.
Contrary to what the Commission claims, there were many concerns voiced by people with disabilities and disability advocates against the elimination of the special certificates. Unfortunately, the Commission does not think that these people have the right to voice an opinion and so discounts them.
What happened to “nothing about us, without us?”
There is inaccurate information regarding the sub-minimum wage laws and certificates, false information regarding the laws and actions in other states regarding sub-minimum wage and employment trends for people with intellectual disabilities.
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 a fact that those with intellectual disabilities, just by the 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 jobs, 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 a 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 handoff 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 who 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 workforce 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.
Last year, the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities, decided that Seattle needed to eliminate the special certificates that employers could utilize that would allow them to pay specific employees with specific disabilities a wage less than the minimum wage for specific jobs. Typically, these jobs are based on productivity. Many times people with profound intellectual and complex disabilities are not as productive as a non-disabled peer. This is not an ableist comment but one of fact. It’s not a matter of just teaching someone a skill but one of providing appropriate supports to enable integration for those who need support.
Then Mayor Ed Murray, stated ““The point of our historic $15 minimum wage law was to build universal equity in Seattle,” said Murray, according to a press release. “A loophole allowing subminimum wages for disabled workers has undermined that goal. We are correcting that error to make good on our promise and our values.” (Seattle Weekly, August 18, 2017.)
It’s unfortunate that this population already is greatly under-employed and also unfortunately, legislating higher pay for less productive work, will only make the unemployment rate for this population higher. This decision lacked understanding of the support needs and various services utilized by this population, disregarded research done on the national level for well planned and funded transition plans which could provide stable and sustainable employment for people with complex disabilities.
Typically, for jobs under these certificates, the employees work 10 hours or less a week. Many times there is a job coach involved – anywhere from 1:1 at all times to just checking in “once and awhile”. (The job coach is not paid by the employer but usually through public funds or grants through the Medicaid services or waivers) The wages the employee earns are reported to Social Security Administration and their monthly SSI check is reduced based on a formula and their earned wages. These people live in poverty.
I contacted the employers and employees in Seattle who were affected by this law.
One employee did have her hours cut from 15 to 12 hours a week. The employer believed that this employee was only about 75% as productive as her non-disabled peers and it was not fair to the other employees to pay the same rate. So the employer did raise the wage to minimum wage but reduced her hours. She is now looking for another job to replace the hours she is missing. This employee has a job coach who checks in occasionally or when needed but is not on site for her regular hours at work.
Another employer stated that they did raise the wage to the minimum wage but it is a hardship. This employee works 6 hours a week and has a job coach that is occasionally on site. The employee’s hours were not cut but the employer did say that they would not be able to hire other employees with complex disabilities due to this new law and therefore it is harmful for the future by limiting options.
I am still in the process of interviewing employers and employees regarding this law and how it has affected them and what they think the future may look like. So far, it appears this law was more harmful than beneficial.
It is often believed that the people who work these jobs are working full time and toiling away for pennies an hour. This is far from the real situation. The special certificates allow choice and options for both employees and employers. They are not intended to be used to hire disabled people in order to pay them less but used to encourage integration and employment of people with complex and intellectual disabilities.
This is social justice gone awry .
Reading the news today that Alaska has banned sub-minimum wage and the kudos of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities about this makes me think that these folks have magical or wishful thinking. The illogicality of these decisions would be amusing if they were not so devastating for people and so consequently, I get very angry rather than laugh.
Robert Dinerstein, a law professor at American University and director of the school’s Disability Rights Law Clinic is quoted as saying “One approach has been to give workers a job coach, who goes to work with them during their first month on the job and helps them learn the ropes.” I’m curious what will happen to those who need to have 1:1 support in order to be employed – do they just get to work for that one month and then lose their job?
Clearly Dinerstein has no clue about the level of supports that many who do work in sheltered workshop or those who work under a sub-minimum wage certificate need.
I have been at odds with the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities over their recommendation that the sub-minimum wage be banned in Seattle. I asked several times to see the research that they claimed they did regarding sub-minimum wage and finally I was given their “research” – some reports and a couple of letters – non that were specific to the issues in Seattle. In fact, the information in the reports was very clear that in undertaking the elimination of sub-minimum wage there needs to be a transition plan in place and the transition needs to take place over several years, maybe 10 or more in some instances. It is embarrassing as a citizen of this city that such major decisions can be made without evidence based research and opportunities for those affected to provide their input. What happened to “Person Centered Planning” and “Nothing about us, without us?” It appears they don’t matter to the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities.
There are multiple reports and research with evidence based practices that can help to make a transition from sheltered workshop or sub-minimum wage to supported employment for those who chose this. This option is not for everyone and can be very expensive and requires collaboration with many involved entities.
New Hampshire seems to be doing quite a bit of research and work to improve supported employment for residents. There was a comprehensive plan on evidence based supported employment and a new, transparent data collection process. There are reports issued every 6 months – this is the report for December 2016
Researchers from George Washington University did a case study of the transition from sheltered workshops to integrated employment in Maine. To more fully understand the needed supports and the experiences of those involved, this report is very informative and does highlight 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.
I do not support closure of sheltered workshops nor elimination of sub-minimum wage jobs that are allowed under the 14c certificates. In addition to providing job support, working in a sheltered workshop can provide much more to the employee to enhance their quality of life and provide meaningful opportunities than many would be able to experience in an integrated supported employment setting.
We need to protect choice and opportunities together with person centered planning.