[nfbwatlk] FW: [State-affiliate-leadership-list] Legislative update on the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Fri Jul 26 03:48:51 UTC 2013



From: State-affiliate-leadership-list
[mailto:state-affiliate-leadership-list-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of
Lewis, Anil
Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 5:59 PM
To: Affiliate Presidents (state-affiliate-leadership-list at nfbnet.org)
Cc: National Association of Blind Students mailing list; NFB Chapter
Presidents discussion list
Subject: [State-affiliate-leadership-list] Legislative update on the
Workforce Investment Act (WIA)




The bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), S. 1356, which
also reauthorizes the Rehabilitation Act,  has been introduced.  Many may
remember how effectively we fought to stall the reauthorization process
because of proposed language in Title V. Section 511 of the WIA that linked
the discriminatory subminimum wage policy of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA) to the Rehabilitation Act.   Our fight is not over.  In
addition to including the subminimum wage language of Section 511, S. 1356
also transfers the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) from the
U.S. Department of Education   to the U.S. Department of Labor. 


All NFB members should prepare to engage in aggressive grassroots action by
collecting the contact information of family and friends that are ready to
help us with our efforts.  Initially we will host an initial call with all
Affiliate Presidents and their Legislative Directors  from states with
Senators that serve on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)
Committee.  The call will take place this Friday, July 26, at 9:00 PM
Eastern, and an additional call will be scheduled next week with all
Affiliate Presidents and Affiliate Legislative Directors.  


In order to begin familiarizing yourself with the identified concerns,
please read the following comments submitted by John Pare, Executive
Director of Advocacy and Policy for the National Federation of the Blind
regarding the proposed legislation.



July 22, 2013


Dear Senator Harkin and Senator Alexander:


The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the oldest and largest
nationwide consumer organization of blind Americans. As a major stakeholder
group representing blind and low-vision consumers throughout the country, we
would like to express our overwhelming frustration about the process used to
develop the Rehabilitation Act reauthorization language.  Providing a
timeline of only a weekend to review over two-hundred pages of language,
years in the making, is unrealistic and denies the committee the full
benefit of our seventy-three years of expertise and experience in the
rehabilitation of blind people.  Moreover, offering this limited opportunity
for comment during a period in which most, if not all, disability consumer
organizations are dedicating their limited resources to the celebration and
commemoration of the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA) further contributes to our difficulty in making a full response.  The
Rehabilitation Act is the foundation of state and federal programs for the
education and employment of Americans with disabilities. Allowing only a
weekend for consumers to provide input on dramatic changes to this critical
legislation trivializes our input and is disrespectful to the fifty-seven
million Americans with disabilities.

Furthermore, it is difficult to evaluate the proposed draft without access
to the research and data used by the committee in crafting the proposal.
The following comments are therefore, of necessity, general observations
made after a relatively cursory review.  We respectfully request access to
the data and research used to formulate the policy recommendations, along
with additional time to provide in-depth comments on the proposed language.
We believe that the committee should allow two weeks for stakeholders to
prepare more additional and detailed comments before further consideration
of this draft legislation, which will dramatically affect the lives of
Americans with disabilities for years to come.  Having put forward this
request for additional time, we have so far identified five areas of
specific concern, which are as follows:


Proposed Section 511


The National Federation of the Blind does not believe that any American
worker with a disability should be paid less than the federal minimum wage
for any reason. We believe that Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards
Act (FLSA) is unfair, discriminatory, and immoral, and we are advocating for
its repeal. The research from the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)
and others documents the detrimental impact of Section 14(c) of the FLSA.
Moreover, the National Council on Disability (NCD), after an extensive
evaluation, also recommends a phase out of Section 14(c) of the FLSA.  We
therefore vehemently object to the language of Section 511 of Title V of the
proposed Rehabilitation Act reauthorization.  As we have said before, this
language is an endorsement of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(FLSA) and its antiquated contention that people with disabilities cannot be
competitively employed.  Section 14(c) of the FLSA has not previously been
referenced in the Rehabilitation Act, and it should not now be linked in any
way to this reauthorization.  While we respect the committee’s desire to
prevent or reduce the tracking of students and youth into segregated
subminimum wage employment, we believe that current law, through the
requirement of “Clear and Convincing Evidence” to prove un-employability of
a person with a disability, and the regulatory language published in the
Federal Register on January 22, 2001, prohibiting placement in sheltered
employment, already provides avenues for the restriction or prohibition of
sheltered subminimum wage employment under the Act.  The proposed language
will have an adverse impact on this existing language, because it sets forth
a step-by-step process to be followed before placing an individual in
segregated employment, creating a track to this undesirable outcome where
none currently exists.  We therefore strongly urge the committee to remove
Section 511 from the reauthorization language. 


Transfer of RSA to the Department of Labor


The National Federation of the Blind objects to the transfer of the
Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) from within the Department of
Education to the Department of Labor (DOL).  While transferring RSA to DOL
theoretically emphasizes the ultimate goal of employment, this proposed
transfer devalues the needed expertise in providing quality rehabilitation
services to people with disabilities in order to best prepare them for
competitive integrated employment.  The National Federation of the Blind
endorses all of the points made in the letter dated July 22, 2013, to
Senators Harkin and Alexander from David DeNotaris, president of the
National Council of State Agencies for the Blind, and refers the committee
to this letter for a more detailed explanation of our objection to this


Transfer of the older blind programs to HHS


For similar reasons to those stated above, we object to the transfer of the
Older Blind program to the Department of Health and Human Services.  As to
further changes to the independent living provisions of the Rehabilitation
Act, we defer to the comments of the National Council on Independent Living.


Transfer of NIDRR to HHS


The National Federation of the Blind objects to the transfer of the National
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) to the
Department of Health and Human Services.  


Reduction in membership of the NCD


The National Federation of the Blind objects to the proposed reduction of
the National Council on Disability from fifteen to nine members.  Such a
reduction will reduce the participation of stakeholders on the NCD, limiting
its usefulness to the President and Congress as an advisor on disability
policy.  Furthermore, the cost reduction achieved by this membership change
appears to be miniscule.


Having stated our initial concerns, the National Federation of the Blind
looks forward to further opportunities to assist the committee in its
deliberations with respect to this critically important legislation. We
close by reiterating our request for an additional two weeks to provide
further comments to the committee to that end.  If you have any questions,
please do not hesitate to contact us.




John G. Paré, Jr. 

Executive Director for Advocacy and Policy NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND




Mr. Anil Lewis, M.P.A.
Director of Advocacy and Policy 


"Eliminating Subminimum Wages For People With Disabilities" 


200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, Maryland   21230


(410) 659-9314 ext. 2374 (Voice)

(410) 685-5653 (FAX)
Email: alewis at nfb.org
Web: www.nfb.org



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