[nfbwatlk] FW: FW: NFB Imagineering Our Future: Exploitation orEquality? Special Issue

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Fri Jul 22 22:23:50 CDT 2011


Yup.

Mike


-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Leslie Fitzpatrick
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2011 8:02 PM
To: 'NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List'
Subject: Re: [nfbwatlk] FW: FW: NFB Imagineering Our Future: Exploitation
orEquality? Special Issue

Mike did they say what I think they did about driving on the city streets?

  _____  

From: nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Mike Freeman
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2011 7:25 PM
To: nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org
Subject: [nfbwatlk] FW: FW: NFB Imagineering Our Future: Exploitation
orEquality? Special Issue



From: list-bounces at cfb.ca [mailto:list-bounces at cfb.ca] On Behalf Of Mary
Ellen
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2011 2:53 PM
To: list at cfb.ca
Subject: [List] FW: NFB Imagineering Our Future: Exploitation or Equality?
Special Issue

 

 

 

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From: Mark Riccobono [mailto:JerniganInstitute at nfb.org]
Sent: July 22, 2011 1:52 PM
To: gabias at telus.net
Subject: NFB Imagineering Our Future: Exploitation or Equality? Special
Issue




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Imagineering Our Future



     Special Issue 36-Exploitation or Equality? 

July 2011    

 


Special Message from the Executive Director


Dear Friends,

Today we are wrapping up the 2011
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=v2D2XMXibE6V1505jahsBQ..>
National Federation of the Blind Youth Slam.  For the past week blind
mentors, instructors, and others have been working with blind youth from
forty-two states and Puerto Rico to inspire and engage them in science,
technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  Through our work these students
will know they have the talent to pursue advanced careers.  

Despite our great progress we still face significant barriers.  One major
barrier is the persistent thought that people with disabilities are less
productive, less energetic, and less imaginative than others in the
workforce.  Students have been asking their mentors why the law permits
employers to pay them less than the minimum wage while at the same time we
are teaching them that they can compete in advanced STEM careers.

This afternoon I and another blind driver will be offering these youth rides
in our Blind Driver ChallengeT cars on the city streets surrounding the
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute. It is our conviction
that these youth will enter the workforce at a time when it is no longer
permissible under law to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages.  The
time to act is now!  This issue is so important and urgent that we have
dedicated this month's newsletter to providing you information about this
antiquated law and current efforts that will further erode the right to
equal pay for equal work for blind youth.  I encourage you to educate
yourself on this issue in order to understand the deep-rooted misconceptions
that still place barriers in front of the blind. After observing a week of
blind youth doing real science, technology, engineering, and math, I am
certain that they will be part of the generation that finally overcomes this
outrageous misunderstanding of the capacity of people with disabilities.  


Thank you,
Description: Image removed by sender. Graphic: Signature of Mark Riccobono
Mark A. Riccobono, Executive Director, NFB Jernigan Institute

P.S.  You can stay up to date on NFB Youth Slam by following NFBScience
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=r2nl8R9Yzt9tfP-rMsqfEg..>  on
Twitter. 



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Unequal Pay for Equal Work 


On Monday, July 18, the NFB took a half-page of space in the Washington Post
to bring to the public's attention an appalling situation.  The U.S. Senate
is poised to pass a bill which endorses paying subminimum wages to the
blind. This is flagrant exploitation of disabled workers! The blind of the
nation are a group that already has a 70 percent unemployment rate.  We need
greater employment opportunities, not lesser ones. We must keep the pressure
on to prevent this bill from becoming law.


Washington Post, July 18, 2011, page A12


Description: Image removed by sender. Photo: Washington Post Subminimum Wage
article

The informational piece in the Washington Post reads: 

Unequal pay for equal work on the basis of disability is unfair,
discriminatory, and immoral. 

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are being exploited. 

They are working in sweatshops.

They are paid less than the federal minimum wage. 

On August 3rd, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
is scheduled to vote on the Workforce Investment Act. This bill reauthorizes
the outrageous practice of paying subminimum wages to Americans with
disabilities. 

Will your senator vote for exploitation or equality? 

Call your senator and ask. 

For more information contact the National Federation of the Blind at (410)
659-9314 or fairwages at nfb.org, or visit www.nfb.org
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=ncAgmYAd9FRUd-HA35LajQ..> .


Description: Image removed by sender. NFB Logo


The Senate HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) is set to
vote on August 3 on the Workforce Investment Act, which contains language
reauthorizing the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. The Rehabilitation
Act is supposed to provide services to disabled Americans so that they can
obtain competitive employment, but Title V, Section 511 of the proposed
Rehabilitation Act language references Section 14(c) of the 1938 Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA), which allows certain entities holding special wage
certificates to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum
wage.   

As President Maurer sums it up, "Unequal pay for equal work on the basis of
disability is unfair, discriminatory, and immoral. The senators who serve on
the HELP Committee must decide whether they stand for the outrageous
exploitation of disabled workers, or for true equality for Americans with
disabilities."

 President Maurer speaks for all of us, "Language endorsing the antiquated
practice of paying the blind and other workers with disabilities less than
the federal minimum wage, which is based on the fallacious premise that
disabled workers cannot be productive and do the same work as their
non-disabled peers, has no place in legislation designed to increase
competitive work opportunities for workers with disabilities. We believe
that this language, in effect if not by design, is a Trojan Horse provision
that will inevitably lead to the placing of workers with disabilities in
subminimum-wage sweatshops. We demand that the Health, Education, Labor, and
Pensions Committee either amend this bill to remove Title V, Section 511, or
simply vote down the entire bill." 

 At the national convention of the NFB just concluded in Orlando, the 2,900
delegates present voted unanimously to demand fair wages for blind workers.
Unless the harmful language is removed, we reject Workforce Investment Act
reauthorization!  The text of the resolution <>  passed on this issue and
other background information <>  and historical  <> perspective are
reproduced later in this newsletter.  

Therefore, we are engaged in a national campaign of public education in
order to let everyone know about the antiquated and immoral practice of
paying workers with disabilities subminimum wages. Outraged Americans have
been calling Senate HELP Committee chairman Tom Harkin and other members'
offices to respectfully express their adamant objection to linking
subminimum wage to the Rehabilitation Act, and to insist that Section 511 of
the Rehabilitation Act be removed from the bill.   

NFB members will also conduct informational protests across the United
States to raise awareness about the practice of paying wages below the
federal minimum wage to Americans with disabilities. The protests will take
place on July 26, the twenty-first anniversary of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, at the primary district office locations of United States
Senators serving on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and
Pensions (the HELP Committee). 

For more resources and information, please write to fairwages at nfb.org, read
the official Web page Fair
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=8aeuh2i3Itm_LUeMGdykIg..> Wages
for Workers with Disabilities, or visit our home page, www.nfb.org
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=LK6kKsAlUq28AULm33C82g..> .  If
you want future updates on this critically important matter, please sign up
to receive
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=a8BRtKFApo6gIL0QUSZiEg..> our
press releases.   You can help us to achieve true equality for Americans
with disabilities.  


Background


 Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) allows
entities holding what are called "special wage certificates" to pay their
disabled workers less than the federal minimum wage. These entities are
almost always segregated workplaces, sometimes called "sheltered workshops,"
that employ workers with various disabilities, including sensory, physical,
and cognitive or developmental disabilities. Federal law requires that
certain goods and services procured by the federal government be purchased
from these sheltered workshops in order to provide workers with disabilities
with employment, but these workers do not have the same protections that
other American workers have. Most importantly they do not receive the
federal minimum wage. In recent times some of these sheltered workshops have
begun to pay disabled workers the minimum wage or higher. Because they
receive very lucrative federal contracts, even those workshops that are
paying workers competitive wages have no trouble maintaining their
operations and even being quite profitable. But some shops still claim that
they would be unable to continue their operations and would have to fire
their workers with disabilities if forced to pay the minimum wage, even
though this claim is demonstrably false.

In 1973 Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act, and in 1990 the Americans
with Disabilities Act became law. Both of these laws are designed to help
workers with disabilities obtain competitive employment outside of these
sheltered workshops. 


The Current Issue


 A bill before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
(commonly called the HELP Committee), the Workforce Investment Act (WIA),
contains language in Title V reauthorizing the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A
new section of this title, Section 511, allows rehabilitation agencies,
which are supposed to place workers with disabilities in competitive
employment, to place workers in sheltered workshops that pay subminimum
wages instead, under certain circumstances. The Rehabilitation Act has never
before endorsed or been linked to the payment of subminimum wages, and the
National Federation of the Blind and our partners do not want to see such a
link established now. We are asking the senators on the HELP Committee to
remove Section 511 from the Workforce Investment Act and to support fair
wages for all workers with disabilities.


RESOLUTION 2011-17:  Regarding the Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization


WHEREAS, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions has
distributed language for the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act
including a proposed Section 511 of Title V (the Rehabilitation Act), which
would provide for employment of people with significant disabilities at
wages below the federally mandated minimum wage; and 

WHEREAS, the proposed language of Section 511 would be a tacit endorsement
of the subminimum wage provision found in Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA) and its antiquated contention that people with
disabilities cannot be competitively employed; and 

WHEREAS, this language links the Rehabilitation Act, which was established
to assist people with disabilities in obtaining competitive integrated
employment, with Section 14(c) of the FLSA, which is based on the false
premise that people with disabilities cannot be competitively employed and
therefore can be paid subminimum wages; and

WHEREAS, the language in Section 511 that defines what steps a vocational
rehabilitation counselor must take before steering a client into
subminimum-wage employment is intended to prevent youth with disabilities
from being tracked into subminimum-wage jobs, but is likely instead to track
clients into subminimum-wage employment; and 

WHEREAS, language in Section 511 asserts that employers holding a
certificate that allows them to pay subminimum wages can also serve as
training facilities for people with disabilities, a claim that ignores the
fact that job training services provided by an employer holding a special
wage certificate are likely to reinforce the low expectation that workers
with disabilities cannot be competitively employed, since the incentive is
for the employer to continue exploiting their labor rather than prepare
workers for other employment; and 

WHEREAS, the Section 511 documentation and review process, which is meant to
provide safeguards against inappropriate use of subminimum-wage employment,
does not take into consideration the fact that state Vocational
Rehabilitation programs do not have the resources to ensure effective
compliance with the various documentation and review requirements, including
the six-month review period in the proposed language, creating an
opportunity to expand the exploitation caused by Section 14(c) of the FLSA;
and 

WHEREAS, the good intentions motivating the development of Section 511 are
likely to result in enormous negative consequences, especially the
validation of subminimum-wage employment as a viable outcome for people with
disabilities; and 

WHEREAS, the language does not provide an effective procedure for workers to
challenge improper placement in such employment: Now, therefore, 

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention
assembled this seventh day of July, 2011, in the city of Orlando, Florida,
that this organization call on members of the Senate Committee on Health,
Education, Labor, and Pensions to remove Section 511 of the proposed
Rehabilitation Act; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon all members of Congress, not to
address the unjust law of Section 14(c) with ineffective measures, but to
take direct action to abolish the reprehensible practice of subminimum-wage
employment forever.  

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Citation


July 6th was the 100th anniversary of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek's birth. It seems
only fitting to include a quote from our founder on the practice of paying
subminimum wages to blind workers:

. . . sheltered workshops have failed to fulfill their responsibility to
their employees. Indeed, they have for the most part sought to avoid the
normal obligations of employers through exemption from the laws fixing
minimum standards of employment and working conditions. Workers in sheltered
shops deserve and require the same protection of their rights as do the
workers in other industries: specifically, with respect to wages, hours,
vacations, sick leave, labor-management relations, and the like. However,
blind workshop employees have never received, and do not now receive, such
protection. Not only do wages fail to meet the cost of living; they fail to
meet the minimum requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, from which
sheltered shops have in fact been explicitly exempted. Nor can blind
workshop employees hope to improve conditions by their own efforts; for one
thing, they are not organized into unions, and for another thing (as noted
earlier) they have been denied the collective bargaining protection of the
National Labor Relations Act. Finally, many of these employees do not have
entitlement to workmen's compensation or Social Security privileges, and
most are denied the benefits of unemployment compensation. In short, blind
workers in sheltered employment are virtually in the position of wards,
without legal rights or recourse, and reduced to an abject dependency upon
the good will and discretion of their employers. In such circumstances, it
is conservative understatement to say that sheltered workshops have failed
to meet the conditions of employment to which American workers are entitled
and accustomed.

-Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, "The Character and Function of Sheltered Workshops,"
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=Sob0mzoV-I6HFG6zOyQ-vw..> Blind
American, May 1962

			

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Thank you for reading the NFB Jernigan Institute's Imagineering Our Future

 


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Interesting links: 


Archive of Straight Talk about Vision Loss
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=nUoMlZ3QnKXEGnt-Tu9haA..>
videos

National Center for Blind Youth in
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=MfAhEcusZxjsG6hjhapT0w..>
Science

Access Technology Tips
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=_LtTWHtV2azROaAHi5YfGQ..> 


TeachBlind Students.org
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=6B-X69QxYc8RvJDk9dV-xA..> 



 


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Blogs:


Access Technology
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Voice of the Nation
<http://www.raceforindependence.org/site/R?i=lLOdrw0BFhml_zkOpAr34g..> 's
Blind








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Publication archives: 


Future Reflections
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Braille Monitor
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