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 Striker and Amendments

We received information this morning that there will be a striker for HB 1706 proposed on the House Floor this morning.  In addition to the striker there are two amendments to be discussed.

HB 1706 – H AMD 323
By Representative Kilduff

1706 AMH YOUN TANG 063

1706 AMH YOUN TANG 060

This striker does not violate the ADA by excluding people with disabilities from being able to work under a special certificate.  Rather than eliminating this option it will still be available and there appears to be better oversight written into the law.

Adding an objective review through utilizing JLARC is important.  The recent JLARC report on Employment and Community Inclusion – Services for People with Developmental Disabilities was very informative and gave excellent guidance to the department on how to improve services.

UPDATE:  It appears HB 1706 Striker was adopted and the amendments were withdrawn.  The bill now goes to the Senate.

 

 

 

Where are the evaluations?

Shaun Bickley “an autistic person who organized a campaign to end subminimum wage in Seattle” turned down the choice to work in a sheltered workshop when he was younger while living in Texas.  It’s great that he had the choice and is employable – he currently works for The Arc of King County in Seattle, WA.

While Bickley flips a page that lists  “over 80 organizations that have signed on in support”  (see link). I am curious if any of them know the full story, have heard of evaluations that have been done in states which have eliminated special certificates or that people in Seattle lost work hours – due to this type of legislation.

There is more to the issue than the wage and the fact that these advocates do not understand or acknowledge that supported employment, while a wonderful opportunity, is costly to sustain.  This is clearly evident in the fact that their Fiscal Note states “No fiscal impact”.  How do they propose employing all these people in supported employment without a fiscal impact?

There needs to be a lot of answers here before moving forward with anymore legislation of this kind.

The following information is taken from Morningside’s Website 

How does Morningside’s Supported Employment Program Work?

After a careful assessment of an individual’s skills and vocational interests, a Morningside job developer will conduct a job search in the community, assisting prospective employers in the identification of appropriate jobs and tasks to meet the needs of their specific businesses. A comprehensive job analysis is conducted to ensure a good employer/employee match. An applicant is referred followed by a job interview, after which the final hiring decision is the employer’s.

How is Morningside Involved After the Placement?

Employment specialists, or job coaches, assist new employees with a comprehensive job orientation, followed by on-going, individualized training and assistance to promote satisfactory work performance on an as-needed basis. They may also provide job modification assistance to employers, disability awareness training for co-workers, or job retention services to the employee and business on a long term basis.

What Reasonable Accommodations will I be Expected to Make for my New Employee and What will They Cost?

The employment specialist may analyze job tasks, restructure how specific job tasks are completed or teach tasks differently to best fit employer/employee needs. Most accommodations cost nothing at all and, in most cases, the employment specialist’s time is free to the employer.

Who pays Morningside (and other agencies? According to the Fiscal note it appears there is no cost.

How can the fiscal note be ZERO?

“Bottom Dollars”, a documentary on sub-minimum wage and sheltered workshops produced by @rootedinrights and Disability Rights Washington, has a statement which tells the truth about the situation –

“If people are given the proper services and supports and proper assistive technology, the sky is the limit for many, many individuals”  – For some reason, this critical statement is not mentioned in any reference to the documentary or supported employment.

Supported employment offers wonderful opportunities to disabled employees and benefits to the employers and our community.  Unfortunately, just as “Bottom Dollars” states, the proper services and supports are needed.  This means FUNDS.  For some reason, advocates, legislators and community members forget about this cornerstone to supported employment  which ensures supported employment to be successful and sustainable.

Microsoft, has developed a “SE -Toolkit” and has a wonderful outlook regarding the benefits to all of hiring people with disabilities. The videos on the site have examples of some wonderful success stories and it is terrific to see disabled people working and enjoying their jobs in the communities.

The information below is from the Microsoft Supported Employment FAQ webpage

Who pays the Supported Employees and their coaches?

Employers do not pay a fee to the coaching agencies. Coaches work for employment coaching agencies, which are usually non-profits funded by government entities. In Washington, the primary government funders are the Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and county Divisions of Developmental Disabilities.
Supported Employees are paid by their employer. The expectation is that vendors will hire Supported Employees within existing labor budgets within the Real Estate and Facilities scope. Vendors hire Supported Employees for roles that they need to fill.

How do job seekers with I/DD find out about Supported Employment opportunities with Microsoft RE&F vendors?

When a vendor has a job opening for a Supported Employee, the program manager notifies the coaching agency partners. The agencies determine which individuals are best suited and qualified for the specific job opening, and assist those individuals with applying, interviewing, onboarding, and ongoing job coaching.
Candidates for employment should contact one of our partner agencies. See the earlier topic, “Who are the primary partners in the Microsoft RE&F Supported Employment Program” for more information, or download our employment agency list.

Stop the Charade

Stop the charade and listen to Senator Walsh tell the honest truth in the statement prior to the public hearing on SB 5753.

Personally, I’m tired of being ridiculed by so-called advocates who talk about parents who have fears – look at the mess we are in -parents and caregivers of those with significant support needs know all too well about the realities.

These fears are based on reality. For those who ridicule us, go visit people like Kevin in the hospital and tell his mom that she is just fearful of what can happen.

Kevin’s 33rd day in a hospital room.

The last 4 days Kevin has become increasingly desperate. The nursing staff at

the Medical Care Unit where he is are such a great group of professionals. They

have tried to keep him occupied, even taking him on wheel chair rides around

the floor, but each day that passes he grows more restless. Kevin is a 5 year old

(6’2” tall) that wants to go back to his safe/familiar room, surrounded by his

things. He also wants to go for hikes, to the store, the movie theater, and the

library. Now he is hitting himself in the stomach and legs with such force that

his legs and abdomen are completely covered with purple and black bruises.

This is the only way that he can deal with this overwhelming stress. He is

limping because he hurt his left leg during the self-injuring actions that now

are happening continuously throughout the day. Yesterday he became

increasingly anxious with each passing hour, pleading for his “Bellingham

house”. He began to scream, hit his room door and window and security was

called. Kevin hit his RN and one of the security guard during the incident when

they attempted to keep him safe in his room. Throughout the day he was

heavily medicated with no success. At night, he managed to escape from his

room and run downstairs to the hospital lobby and then outside where he was

wrestled by security until Bellingham police arrived.

After he was guided back to his room by the police he was finally medicated

with an IM injection of B52 (Benadryl/Haldol/Lorazepam). He has been asleep

since then, in a way I feel this is better for him to stop his mental anguish and

physical self-inflicted pain.

This situation is a disgrace, my child deserves better from our system. He will

severely injure hospital staff or will be gravely injured by medication

administration and/or being restrained.

 

 

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.  

Washington State Sub-minimum wage HB 1706

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 February 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.

#subminimumwage

 

Vigilante Justice

When I got home from work last night, my husband handed me the New York Times and told me to read the Opinion Essay written by David Brooks titled

The Cruelty of Call-Out Culture

“Once you adopt binary thinking in which people are categorized as good or evil, once you give random people the power to destroy lives without any process, you have taken a step toward the Rwandan genocide.”

bullying.jpeg

 

It really was good timing given the events of the day.  I had found out that SB,  a person who identifies as the Co-Chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities had written a scathing letter about me to the CEO/President of the company that employs me.  My job has nothing at all to do with my volunteer work with this blog or with my volunteer advocacy work so the only reason that Bickley would have to write such as letter would be harassment and abuse.

Since I had to file a police report on November 3, 2018 for cyberbullying and libel due to another public essay written by SB,  I have not seen or heard anything from this person.  Why the sudden letter writing campaign now?  What is the purpose of the harassment and what does SB have to gain by abusing and bullying others?

There is one word which could have nipped all this abuse in the bud – ACCOUNTABILITY.   Unfortunately, when my encounters with SB started, SB refused to be accountable and continues to refuse – instead fabricating actions of abuse from others and claiming to be a victim from all the ableist people in our communities.

Intimidation concept.

 

Now, SB has also solicited a friend, Jennifer White, CEO of Able Opportunities to also write a letter to the CEO/President of my employer.  I have never met Ms. White nor have I ever had any contact with her.  She also wrote that she did not know me but asked if I was using these “bullying tactics with Mr. Bickley, how is she interacting with other vulnerable adults with disabilities who receive services at your hospital?

Now, again, with the escalation of abuse and threats written by SB in this recent letter, another police report will be filed, legal counsel will be retained and there may be court interventions.

Responsibility highlighted in green

It is shameful that things have been allowed to get so out of control.  The issues are not new and many people have reported complaints of abuse, harassment, stalking and other behaviors of SB to the City of Seattle.

Mayor Durkan did not reappoint SB to his Commission seat and SB then solicited the Commission to appoint them to a Commission seat and also to re-appoint them to the co-chair position in August 2018.  September 21, 2018, SB was “voted out of committee” for this Commission seat despite several people providing public testimony against this appointment.

Typically, once a Commission Appointee is “voted out of committee”  they are officially appointed by the Full Council the next council meeting.  The other Commission Appointee from the September 21, 2018 committee meeting was appointed on October 1, 2018.  To this date, SB has not been appointed by the City Council identifies as the Co-Chair of the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities and writes letters with that title.

It’s one thing to be called out for something one actually did but when one is “called out” for false allegations against you that is cyberbullying/libel.  It’s a whole different ball game.

NPR Invisibilia Podcast episode