Dear President Obama and Secretary Perez:
On behalf of the National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA), we write to applaud your recent focus on economic opportunity for all Americans. We also wish to strongly urge you to ensure that workers with disabilities now making less than minimum wage under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act are included in the $10.10/hour minimum wage you will soon require for government contractors in your forthcoming executive order. NDLA is a coalition of 14 leading national disability organizations led by people with disabilities themselves and supported by grassroots constituencies living with disabilities in all states and the District of Columbia.
As you know, many workers with disabilities are employed by government contractors. Government contractors who hold 14c certificates from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division have been permitted to pay less than minimum wage to workers with disabilities. We believe that all Americans should be afforded minimum wage protections, including workers with disabilities. The National Disability Leadership Alliance has previously expressed our commitment to including all Americans, with and without disabilities, in the protections of federal minimum wage law.
Mr. President and Secretary Perez, all employees of federal contractors should mean all employees, regardless of disability status. In the last two 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. We believe this progress shows that it is both economically sound and morally just to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the same wage protections as those without. While a broader end to subminimum wage and Section 14c may require an act of Congress, we believe that the Administration has the authority to end the use of subminimum wage for employees of federal contractors immediately, through the use of the same executive order establishing the new $10.10/hour requirement.
Thank you again for your leadership and for serious consideration of our comments. We look forward to working with you to accomplish the full realization of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s promise of equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic
self-sufficiency. By including people with disabilities in your forthcoming executive order, you take us a step further towards that goal.
Regards,ADAPT American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living Autistic Self Advocacy Network National Association of the Deaf National Council on Independent Living National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery National Federation of the Blind Little People of America Not Dead Yet United Spinal Association