Straw Ban, Straw Kids and SB5077

The Straw Ban – where to start and where to end – there are several issues that need to be discussed and there is one issue that is non-negotiable.

Yes, we do have a plastics problem – that’s a given.  There are many misunderstandings regarding the major culprits of this and the major areas that are causing the pollution.  Those are the areas that can be discussed and hashed out with those environmentalists that understand this issue.

The non-negotiable issue is the use of single-use bendable plastic straws which are life saving tools for many with disabilities.  This is not an issue that is only for those who are currently disabled but an issue for everyone.  Aging, disease or acquired disability could cause any one of us to rely on these straws for our life. There are no viable alternatives for this population.

I know that photos of sea animals with injuries from plastics is not a pretty sight to see and I feel very sorry for those animals too.

But, I also have great concern for the harm that can come to our fellow humans when they are denied tools that enable them to have a full life.  Without these particular straws, people will aspirate and that leads to a whole cascade of events often leading to death.

aspiration pneumonia

17 year old with acute respiratory failure

aspiration caused acute respiratory failure

This is a 17 year old boy who developed acute respiratory failure – could have been something he aspirated.  He now has chronic lung damage.

SB 5077 was brought to Senator Patty Kuderer by students at Lake Washington High School.  In addition to these students testifying at the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee on January 24, 2019, a younger group of students, the Straw Kids,  from Redmond, WA also provided testimony.

While it is terrific to see these young students engaged in the legislative process, it would be great if they could also learn about the lives of those with disabilities and have real concern and understanding for the needs these real people are saying are a necessity to their life.

kids testifying for sb 5077

“Straw Kids” from Redmond, WA 

Please, kids, take a look at the photo of your peer, learn about people with disabilities and the tools they need to live, do not deny life to your fellow humans.

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