Experiences transitioning from the use of Section 14(c) certificates

14(c) reinforces bad stereotypes, stigma, and poverty

I work as an employment advocate for people with disabilities in Maine. Maine has been successful in phasing out the use of subminimum wage certificates over several years, leading to more people with disabilities gaining actual employment skills, experience, training, and opportunities. While 14c was still in use here, I remember several individuals who talked with me about their frustration with subminimum wage jobs. One man in particular asked me what he could do to earn more. I asked him what parts of the job were hard for him, and he gave me some examples. I asked him if he thought more training would help, and he thought it might. I helped him rehearse how to approach his supervisor to ask for more training on the tasks that slowed him down the most. He did, and the supervisor agreed to train with him the next week. They spent a couple of days going over all of the tasks and practicing again. He was able to improve on the job practically overnight, and his wage was raised. The supervisor told him that he hadn't thought to give him more training before. 14c certificates and subminimum wage do not help people with disabilities. Rather, it reinforces the worst stereotypes and stigmas about what people with disabilities are capable of learning or doing. We should be working to help people find the job that fits, and to offer real training and accommodations so that both employer and employee benefit.

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Idea No. 2309