Statement in Support of Workers with Disabilities

Friday, February 7, 2014

Workers with disabilities deserve the same protections as workers without disabilities. That is why Change to Win and the Good Jobs Nation campaign are proud to urge President Obama and Secretary Perez to include workers with disabilities in their forthcoming landmark executive order requiring a $10.10/hour minimum wage for employees of federal contractors. Change to Win is proud to stand with all low wage workers fighting to improve their circumstances.  As the White House and Department of Labor work to prepare the details of the executive order, we wish to strongly state our support for the full inclusion of workers with disabilities, including those today being paid drastically less than minimum wage, in the executive order.

Today, 420,000 workers with disabilities are paid less than minimum wage under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Many of these workers are being employed under federal contracts.

According to the Government Accountability Office, more than half of all 14(c) workers make $2.50/hour or less. As Secretary Perez commented this week on the Diane Rehm Show, Section 14(c) is “a provision of law which has worked to the detriment of people with disabilities.”

We urge the White House to issue an inclusive executive order, including workers with disabilities now under 14(c) programs. In the last several years, we have seen commitments from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon to phase out the use of sheltered workshops – the primary setting where disabled workers are paid less than minimum wage. Vermont ended the use of both sheltered workshops and subminimum wage employment of people with disabilities in 2003. Workers with disabilities have shown time and time again that they are as capable and as worthy of contributing to our workforce as any other American. It is our sincere hope that the President’s forthcoming landmark executive order will reflect that principle.

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