What is all this about sub-minimum wage?

Is it a “loop hole” or an accommodation?  It depends on how you use it and who you use it for and if you are following the regulations as intended.

Don’t fall for the argument that this is a loop hole – or at least if you do, stop exploitation of those who abuse the system rather than using it to promote employment and community engagement.

White Picket Fence

Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was not intended to be a “loop-hole” to exploit anyone.  It was also not written to apply to whole populations of people with any type of disability.  The fact that a worker may have a disability is not in and of itself sufficient to warrant the payment of a subminimum wage.

The Special Minimum Wage Provision Section 14c of the FLSA is a vital tool that allows individuals with significant disabilities to work in an environment where they are compensated commensurate with their productivity, have friendships, support and purposeful activity – this can be in any work setting that they choose.  Often, it is in community settings which also enables the employee to build natural supports.

Everyone has a right to work. Support this right for our most vulnerable citizens!

Take a look at this fence – yes, there is a problem – what is the best way to fix it?  Tear the whole fence down or fix that one board?  My vote would be to fix the board and keep the fence.  The same with Section 14 (c) – fix the problem but keep the regulation.

As with many laws and regulations set up to protect people and provide choices and alternatives, there are always those who will exploit and abuse.  This does not mean that the system was bad or caused the exploitation but that those who abuse and exploited were doing evil actions.  Those are the ones that should be held accountable for their wrong-doing – not those who are in need of choice, alternatives and protections.

We should not punish our vulnerable citizens because there are others who will exploit them.  Without certain protections in place our vulnerable citizens will be at risk of much more danger.  What we need to do is call out the evil-doers and hold them accountable for their actions.

Department of Labor fact sheet.

 

 

Employment Supports – who pays?

We are all in agreement that people deserve to earn a fair wage – that is not in question.

Forget Me Not

Forget-me-not when making decisions about ME

 

When we are working with a population of people with significant intellectual/developmental disabilities who may often have additional mental/medical/physical/behavior disabilities we are talking about a very complex situation.  Our goals are to encourage as much independence and integration as possible and we realize that this most often includes personal supports to be in place.

For services and supports that are to be driven by person-centered planning and thinking with personal choice, most often this population has no choice or the choices are made by those who have no idea what the collateral damage of their decisions will be on those they are making the choices for.  Choices which are said to “improve the quality of life” – without asking and working with those actually involved – how are these so-called choices proven to improve the quality of life of those affected?

One very recent issue is the closure of pre-vocational training jobs and facilities.  Many people worked at these sites by CHOICE but that has been taken away because everyone deserves minimum wage.  That’s fine – but in order to do the work to earn minimum wage, many of these people need paid supports in order to find and keep a job.

The issue is not only what the employer will pay the employee but who will pay for the support needed so the employee is able to work?  We need to address this issue.

Currently the wage to a job vendor (in King County, Washington) is $73.00/hour whether an individual is receiving supports to find a job, or receiving job coaching to maintain a job.  The counties authorize a certain number of hours for each person within employment services.  There is a cap of $3,600 payment to a vendor per month (approximately 50 hours of employment for the employee who makes about minimum wage if they are actually employed.)

When the choice of pre-vocational training jobs was eliminated, most have been left with scraps.

King County PVS clients 2019

Pre-Vocational Training – clients spent an average of 58.4 hours a month on-site – time that was both work/therapy/socialization.  Clients worked an average of 43.9 hours a month of that 58.4 hour average. .  This means that all people in the pre-vocational services had an average weekly engagement of 14-15 hours.

Fast Forward to the collateral damage of the current situation due to their choice taken away –

Community Inclusion – 45 people – average of 9 hours a month (decrease of 49 hours of engagement)

Employment Services – Total 62 people –

  • 23 people are actually “employed” working an average of 8.75 hours a week (decrease of 49 hours of engagement a month)
  • Employment rate of 37% (depends on how this is figured – could be 25%,  37% or 58% – I believe the correct percentage is 37% based off of how many are in the employment service and how many actually have a job)
  • 39 people have no employment – ZERO hours of engagement

King County Previous PVS clients

 

The Take Away –

  • who is paying for the authorized funds for support?  How much and for what supports and services?  For those with NO employment are the vendors still being paid for supports?
  • We went from a high employment and engagement rate for this population to an extremely low employment and engagement rate.  What was the cost?  Not just in dollars but in meaningful life experiences.
  • Do these people feel more integrated and engaged and feel their life has more meaning than before this choice was taken away?

It behooves us to look at this and understand the collateral damage.

We believe in choice and wise use of the meager resources we have in methods that will best serve the most people.

Encourage your legislators to address the JLARC report and issues regarding person-centered planning and choice, quality of life for both the individual and their supports -we do not live and work in isolation.

 

“Facts” from The Arc of King County

The Arc of King County published Some facts about the subminimum wage bill on their advocacy blog today  – we say – check their “facts”

The Developmental Disabilities Case load and Cost report has data that is very different than what the Arc of King County reports – take for instance the number of people in supported integrated employment who work and make minimum wage.

DDA reports  8102 people are in the supported integrated employment services program, 3678 (45%) make at least minimum wage, 2294 (28%) make less than minimum wage and 2130 (27%) do not make a wage.

The Arc of King County reports – “Most people served by individual supported employment (the other 92 percent getting DDA employment services) already make minimum wage or better.”

DDA reports that 45% of those in supported integrated employment make minimum wage or better.

The Arc of King County reports “Most people served by individual supported employment (the other 92 percent getting DDA employment services) already make minimum wage or better.”

A national trend?  We don’t think so.  Of great importance is that there has not been evaluations done for quality of life, meaningful life or job satisfaction/employment rates since some of these states have made changes.  As policy makers, one would think that evaluations are important before making decisions.

The Arc of King County reports Vermont closed its sheltered workshops in the 1990s and abolished subminimum wage certificates for people with disabilities. New Hampshire, Maryland and Alaska all passed legislation to abolish subminimum wages for people with disabilities

Review Magical Thinking for some research and insights from New Hampshire and Maine on the issues of eliminating subminimum wage.

From Alaska :  While the Employment First movement has picked up in recent years, it does pose new challenges in how providers should tailor job-training services for each person.

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.
(from 2018 – no evaluation of the outcome of their legislation yet )

These are just a few of the facts that have been checked – there are more.

Please ask The Arc of King County, Representative Noel Frame, Activist Shaun Bickley or any of those organizations on the list of organizations which support this bill,  about these discrepancies.

Ask them about the numbers of hours that employees work a week, ask them who pays for the job coaches and supports that will be ongoing for many of the employees to keep their jobs.  There are too many unanswered questions or concerns that have not been addressed for this bill to advance without causing more harm than good.

Eliminating subminimum wage – HB 1706

EHB 1706 passed the House yesterday in a vote of 81-17.  We have many concerns regarding this bill and now after one of our contributors received a response from Representative Noel Frame regarding the number of people who had special certificates, we are more concerned about the lack of information she and other legislators may have regarding the Special Certificates, sub-minimum wage, supported integrated employment and people with disabilities in general.

 

Representative Noel Frame

Below is the conversation from Noel Frame’s Facebook site. Clearly Representative Frame does not understand that there are over 4000 people in the DDA integrated supported employment program that are employed and make less than minimum wage.

It appears that Representative Noel Frame thought the only people earning less than minimum wage were those in sheltered workshops (which are no longer in Washington State anyhow) and totally missed that there are many in our integrated community sites that do not earn minimum wage or maybe do not earn any wage.

Felak and Frame Facebook posts from Noel Frame site

 

DDA caseload and cost report

Cheryl Felak also wrote:

While I understand that you, Noel Frame, were introduced to this issue by your constituent, Shaun Bickley, who is a very hard worker and activist, Bickley is misinformed on some of the information – partly because he blocks people who have a difference of opinion or ask questions for clarification – He blocked me over a year ago so any comments he may post, I will not be able to see.

It appears to not only me but many other advocates that Bickley has a vendetta against parents and allies who do not 100% agree with his position. Given that the MAJORITY of people in DDA continue to live with their families and depend on their families for housing, transportation and other activities of daily living, it is critical that we also listen to families, caregivers and other natural supports in this discussion. Without these people involved who do their best to ensure their family member with IID is integrated in the community people who want to make policies and laws regarding support are missing a huge part by ignoring these very critical partners.  They are a huge part of the discussion. Ridiculing them and stating they are speaking out of fear is a bias that is uncalled for.

As an aside to this – the issue of many, many people with IID being dumped in hospitals for months, chemically and physically restrained because their group homes have refused to care for them any longer is reality for many families now. Families tried to speak up about this in the past but were ridiculed. Families know the reality and they need to be listened to and be a real part of the conversation too.

It will be interesting to see what type of response we receive.  It would would have been best to have been part of the discussion from the beginning rather than mopping up a mess.

HB 1706 – Elimination of Special Certificates

Below is a copy of an email to sponsors of this bill that was heard today in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee.   This bill is being heard without an understanding of the full impact and pushed “as the right thing to do”.  I’m sorry, but we have already seen how policies driven by ideology with little regard to facts, evaluation and assessment of changes has contributed to our current and continued crisis in the supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
It’s time to stop the charades, work together and come to real, sustainable solutions that best benefit the most people.  HB 1706 is not one of those solutions.
Collaboration concept in word tag cloud

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.  

National Council on Disability – Employment

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.

**CORRECTION**

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.

CART:
A CART streamtext link has been arranged for this meeting. The web link to access CART on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 is:
https://eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.streamtext.net%2Fplayer%3Fevent%3DNCD-QUARTERLY&data=02%7C01%7C%7C7d1150d77ee243688cda08d6382a42b8%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C636758151489616659&sdata=qMb8Rlq3VyzCNmnOFNhNbAa1uV5%2BFHVtY2ZowthTxVA%3D&reserved=0.

Accommodations:
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
3:15-3:30 p.m.–BREAK
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
5:00 p.m.–Adjourn

Public Comment:
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.

More Information:
If you have any questions about this meeting of the Council, please contact Anne Sommers at asommers@ncd.gov.

 

Screenshot (63)

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?

NCD Quarterly Meeting Agenda October 2018 – Shaun Bickley, Arc of King County, as panelist

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.

Fallout: Loss of jobs and hours in Seattle

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.

Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda and members of Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities

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 they 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.

SubminimumWageLetter from PWD commission


 

Social Justice?  Making people with disabilities unemployable in Seattle

Sub-minimum wage – godsend or exploitation?