Dear Together for Choice Supporters:
It is critical that you act quickly to protect the employment opportunities of our loved ones and all others with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The United States Department of Labor is conducting a nationwide survey to collect citizens’ views on whether Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act should be continued or repealed. Section 14(c) permits employers to pay individuals with disabilities a specialized wage based on their ability to perform the job. The purpose of Section 14(c) is to help individuals with disabilities to obtain employment. We know that the so-called disability rights advocacy groups will be flooding DOL with their view that Section 14(c) should be repealed and that everyone with a disability must be employed “in the community” at minimum wage or above. These advocates fail to realize (or acknowledge) that the repeal of Section 14(c) will mean the loss of employment for men and women with significant intellectual or developmental disabilities. It is important the DOL hear our side of the story. We must convince DOL that there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to employment. Section 14(c) continues to play a critical role in allowing non-profit service providers to create employment opportunities for those who cannot otherwise hold jobs “in the community” or to supplement the few hours a week of “community” employment. Therefore, please follow the instructions below to complete the online DOL survey.
YOU MUST DO SO BY JUNE 12. INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Click the link here: https://14cdialogue.ideascale.com/
2. Click Register in the upper right hand corner
3. Create your account. If you are an individual, put NA for organization. If you are an organization, put the name of the organization.
4. After you register you will get an email with a 6 digit verification code, write down the code
5. In that same email, click on “Verify my e mail”
6. Type in your verification code
7. You will be asked to create a password
8. Once you submit your password you will get to the “Section 14(c) National Online Dialogue” screen
9. Click on “Use of Section 14(c) Certificates and Observed Trends”
10. Click on “Submit New Idea”
11. Type in a Title for you message. It is limited to 64 characters. You can do something like “Those with Significant Intellectual Disabilities Need 14(c)”
12. Type in the Description box what you want to say about the importance of 14(c) to your family member of the individuals served by your organization. There is no apparent character limit, but we should keep the description relatively short while providing information about your family member or the individuals served by your organization and the importance of 14(c) to them. If you are an individual member of TFC, consider including the following information;
a. Your family member’s name and where he or she lives
b. If he or she lives in a residential facility, identify and briefly describe the facility
c. Explain your loved one's disability and level of functioning
d. Explain that you oppose the repeal or phase out of 14(c)
e. If your family member spends time at a facility that offers 14(c) employment, briefly describe those work programs
f. If it is the case, describe why your loved one cannot obtain or maintain a job in the community at minimum wage.
g. If your loved one does have a job in the community, explain how it is only for a few hours a week and he or she spends the rest of her week in a 14(c) job if that is the case.
h. If your loved one is employed in a 14(c) job, explain what he or she does and what that job means to him or her.
i. Explain that the elimination of Section 14(c) would increase to cost of employment, causing the reduction of jobs.
j. Explain what it would mean to your loved one if he or she lost her 14(c) job.
k. If your loved one does not currently have a 14(c) job explain your hope that he or she will at some point have the skills to hold such a job, but that would only be possible if he or she could receive a special wage under Section 14(c).
l. If you are completing the survey on behalf of an organization, explain the importance of 14(c) to the individuals you serve and the impact on these men and women if 14(c) were repealed or phased out.
13. After you have completed your description, click Submit
For your reference, below is the description that I submitted to DOL. It is important that your description be personalized, so please change the paragraph below to your own words and to capture the individual circumstances of your loved one or your organization.
Our daughter Sarah lives at Misericordia in Chicago, IL. Misericordia is a non-profit entity serving over 600 children and adults with intellectual disabilities who require around-the-clock care. Sarah is 37 years old, has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair, and is intellectually about three to four years old. She needs assistance to perform all activities of daily living, including dressing, bathing, toileting, eating, and medicating. We strongly oppose the repeal or phase-out Section 14(c). It is essential that 14(c) remain available to those served by Misericordia.
Misericordia operates a number of work programs on its campus. The purpose of these programs is to provide job training to the men and women Misericordia serves and to provide them with a life of dignity. All of these programs operate at a loss. These programs are operated solely to give Misericordia residents the pride and self-esteem that come from holding a job. If Section 14(c) is phased out, the cost of these work programs would triple. Misericordia would be forced to employ fewer of its residents and employ them for fewer hours. The loss of job opportunities for our loved ones would not be replaced by off-campus jobs.
Many Misericordia residents, including our Sarah, could not obtain or maintain an off-campus job at the minimum wage. Sarah's intellectual and behavioral challenges preclude community employment. Her only opportunity at employment is an on-campus job where she can receive the constant care and support she requires. We hope that through Misericordia's excellent training programs that one-day Sarah can hold a job in Misericordia's laundry or recycling program. But, if Section 14(c) is eliminated, that will become impossible. The end of 14(c) would mean the end of our dream that Sarah will one day have a job on Misericordia's campus.
Scott M. Mendel
Chairman, Together for Choice