Here we go again discussing the issue of what the Special Certificates really are and what the subminimum wage really is. HB 1706 is the bill that will be heard in the Washington State Labor and Workplace Standards Committee on F
ebruary 11, 2019. (meeting cancelled due to weather)
For those people who are working for a special wage under a special certificate, eliminating this choice and option will essentially eliminate their job. The Special Certificate allows a special wage (not be be confused with a sub-minimum hourly wage) for a specific job and specific amount of work. It is not a wage based on an hourly rate. This also means that when one hears stories of people making “pennies an hour” one is led to believe that people are slaving away with a whip over their head being exploited and coerced to work.
Yes, Seattle passed legislation this past year eliminating special certificates. The legislation also eliminated the opportunity of ANYONE with a disability to work as an “apprentice, learner or messenger.” This greatly discriminates against disabled in taking jobs in these categories. This legislation was passed based on false information, lack of input from those directly affected and caused people to lose precious hours being integrated in their community. Essentially – the opposite of what law,makers were told.
Currently, we have much more critical issues to address with regards to appropropriate supports for our vulnerable population which actually will affect the health and safety of many, many people in our state. Now is not the time to address this issue which has had very little research or evaluation done in states (or cities) that have eliminated these special certificates.
Now is the time to sit back on this, evaluate and assess what has already occurred and how those affected have weathered the changes – it is not the time to create more havoc and crisis in our lives.
I fully support paying everyone a fair and just wage. I also know that for our population with profound disabilities, their job alone is not the only income they have to support themselves and the great majority of people in this population work less than 11 hours a week (DDA Caseload)
As a fiber artist, I spend hours and hours on one project. The price I sell a piece for is far less than “pennies an hour” for my work. I would imagine that any artist will tell you the same thing. Some jobs are not paid by the hour but by the product.
Special Certificates for Special Wages are not for jobs that are paid on an hourly wage but for jobs that are paid by the product.