Labor Day is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the first Monday in September every year. For many people, Labor Day means a day off from work and school, barbecues, and maybe a neighborhood parade – but the true meaning of the holiday might not be at the forefront.
Labor Day is a holiday to celebrate the American labor movement and the important (yet often overlooked) contributions of the workers to this country. Without organized labor, we wouldn’t have a minimum wage, child labor laws, weekends, the 8-hour work day, the right to form a union, or the ability to strike for better working conditions. Working people have won a lot of victories, but there are still fights to be won – especially for workers with disabilities.
When the national minimum wage was established by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), it was intended to be a living wage. It’s widely understood that the current national minimum wage of $7.25 is not a living wage, and today, there are movements to increase the national minimum wage. However, what’s not widely acknowledged is that Section 14(c) of the FLSA makes it legal to pay workers with disabilities less than the minimum wage – which means even if we successfully raise the minimum wage, there could still be hundreds of thousands of workers with disabilities who won’t get to celebrate that success. There’s nothing “fair” about the subminimum wage.
Last February, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) celebrated President Obama’s inclusion of workers with disabilities in his executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10. We couldn’t have won that victory without the hundreds of dedicated advocates who donated, volunteered, and contacted the White House and Department of Labor to demand the inclusion of workers with disabilities.
This Labor Day, we’re calling on you again to help us take that victory one step further. There are two bills in Congress right now which, if passed, could finally eliminate Section 14(c) and the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities. These are the Transition to Independence Act (S. 1604) and the Transition to Integrated and Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act (HR 188).
ASAN has put together two 2-page introductions to the Transition to Independence Act and the TIME Act, covering the key parts of each bill. These introductions will give you the information needed to contact your Senators and Representative (for the TIME Act) and your Senators (for the Transition to Independence Act).
Help us fight for the rights of workers with disabilities. Tell congress: Labor Rights are Disability Rights!