I was inspired to write this blog after seeing a post on Instagram (@the.autisticats) about minimum wage and people with disabilities.
There's has been lots of conversation around raising minimum wage to $15/ hour. It is still 100% legal for people with disabilities to be paid less than $1/hour. An article written by NPR highlights this problem, "Since 1938, U.S. labor law has carved out a rule for some people with disabilities, saying they can be paid less than minimum wage. The New Deal-era law was intended to encourage employment of more people." The article goes on to state, "This call by a top federal civil rights watchdog is a major milestone in the difficult history of so-called sheltered workshops and other "subminimum-wage" employers. They pay tens of thousands of people with disabilities an average wage of $3.34 a hour, the report says, for tasks like bagging newspapers, shredding papers by hand or wrapping silverware in napkins. They calculate wages by regularly timing how long it takes each worker to complete their task and comparing that productivity to an experienced worker without disabilities." People with disabilities working in these "sheltered workshops" or "work centers" are segregated workplaces. They exist to only employ people with disabilities. In America, people with disabilities are required when receiving government services to have a job or be in a day program. It makes no logical reason for subminimum wage to be in effect. I know the Biden administration has plans to eliminate "subminimum wage" and I hope they follow through with this plan.
As for myself, I'm not in a day program or work in a sheltered workshops. I'm able to get a job and maintain it. I'm able to maintain my job because of the supports I have in place. I do make more than minimum wage, but that excludes me from other government services like Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Income. The only program I qualify for is Medicaid. I don't make enough money to live on my own. My journey to be able to make enough money on my own is longer than my neurotypical peers. I'm just a single story; I'm sure there are many others who have similar stories.
This blog is also posted on Photography through Autism.
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