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

People with disabilities want fair treatment and respect

As a disability advocacy and services organization, over the course of many years we have had community members with I/DD share their sheltered workshop experiences with us on a regular basis. They have shared their desire to be paid a living wage; their anger at the fact that those who employ them make far more than they do, and their desire to be part of a workplace just like anyone else. The FLSA's 14(c) is based on an extremely outdated idea of the lives of people with I/DD. Today, self advocates have higher expectations and are outspoken about what they want. People do want stability, meaning, and to be treated fairly on the job, but they are outraged at being paid less than minimum wage. Self advocates have also pointed out that often, their fellow workers with I/DD in sheltered workshops don't get a choice explained to them, and so they cling to the sheltered workshop because they are denied an opportunity to broaden their horizons. We know that change in phasing out subminimum, segregated employment will take time and investment; in Illinois alone there were 11,555 people with I/DD working at 14(c) locations. That's one state and a lot of people. But just because something has always been done doesn't mean it is a good idea. It is time to move away from the 1930s version of disability and to one where we are listening to self advocates, and supporting real choices. Our organization supports self advocates saying it's time to phase out 14(c), and we want to see steady change and investment happen over a phaseout period.

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Idea No. 2112