The Autistic Self Advocacy Network applauds the passage of the Raise the Wage Act in the House of Representatives. This bill would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and end the discriminatory practice of legally paying people with disabilities less than minimum wage. ASAN supports legislation that allows workers with disabilities to earn a fair wage and transition out of poverty, and we urge the Senate to pass this long-overdue bill.
The Raise the Wage Act is the first bill to include workers with disabilities in a fair minimum wage. Nearly eighty years after the Fair Labor Standards Act, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities continue to be exploited under section 14(c), a discriminatory loophole that permits employers to pay workers with disabilities subminimum wage. Some employers pay disabled workers, including autistic workers, only pennies an hour. This form of wage discrimination keeps workers with disabilities in extreme poverty.
In addition, many of the workers who currently earn the federal minimum wage are either individuals with disabilities or people who are paid to support us, such as home health aides and accessible transportation providers. Low wages are a major reason why so many people with disabilities and our supporters are unable to escape poverty. The extremely low minimum wage has also made it difficult for people with disabilities to find qualified supporters to help us live in the community. By gradually increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over 5 years, the Raise the Wage Act will promote the financial security of people with disabilities and ensure our access to adequate support.
Every worker, including workers with disabilities and those who support us, deserves a fair wage. ASAN is proud to support this crucial piece of legislation. We urge the Senate to pass it without delay.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people. ASAN was created to serve as a national grassroots disability rights organization for the autistic community run by and for autistic Americans, advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of autistic people are heard in policy debates and the halls of power. Our staff work to educate communities, support self-advocacy in all its forms, and improve public perceptions of autism. ASAN’s members and supporters include autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, and non-autistic family members, professionals, educators, and friends.