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Minimum Wage Debate: Disproportionately Impacts Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
The Arc Maryland Says: It's time to address sub-minimum wage!
By: The Arc Maryland, Inc.
We must also address individuals earning sub-minimum wage. Minimum wage workers make $7.25 an hour while, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on sub-minimum wage[ii], sub-minimum wage workers on average make a meager $2.50 an hour. This same report found that nearly 424,000 individuals (nationally)
According to the US Department of Labor, in Maryland, over 40 organizations[
Sub-minimum wage practices[v]
To be fair, the organizations who employ sub-minimum practices are doing so legally[ix] (although the Department of Justice is now evaluating its application.[
The State should establish a workgroup to create a State Plan for a carefully constructed phase-out plan to end sub-minimum wage by 2017. The State should:
Empower a taskforce to create a phase out plan. The taskforce should be connected with the existing employment workgroups such as the Maryland Employment Consortium with Technical Assistance provided by the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), University of Massachusetts, Boston[xi] and the Employment First[xii] Workgroup (led by DD Council and DOD[xiii], respectively)
Design the plan to include:
o An accurate picture of current employment, under-employment, and sub-minimum wage statistics for the state and also identify measureable target goals.
o Technical assistance, supports, and fiscal incentives to organizations currently using 14(c) employment programs to move to community-based and fairly compensated employment programs.
o Model "employment first" policies for adoption by the 14(c) Organizations.
o The planned movement of individuals into employment programs embracing promising and evidence-based practices available today. (Two such alternatives are "Employment First" and Project Search).
o Ongoing plans for baseline and trend data collection, analysis, and interpretation for purposes of continual improvement. Progress should be transparent and visible -- reported in an employment dashboard.
Draft the Plan to address differences found in Maryland including urban, suburban, and rural settings as well as cultural and language differences found throughout the state of Maryland.
Impose a mandated moratorium for Transitioning Youth in Maryland entering 14(c) programs.
Assure the workgroup disproportionately includes individuals and families such as transitioning youth looking for employment, individuals with DD currently in sub-minimum wage jobs, and it should also include employers.
The Arc Maryland advocates for change through legislation, policy, and practice to protect the rights of persons with I/DD to just and favorable conditions of work, including equal opportunities and equal remuneration for work of equal value. It's time that legislators and the State of Maryland begin to address the issue of sub-minimum wage.
The Arc Maryland
Carol Fried, President
Dan Schmitt, Governmental Affairs Chair
Kate Fialkowski, Executive Director
Aaron Kaufman, Adult Systems Advocate
Richard Davis, Policy Partner Program Manager
[iv]Caroline Center Certificate Number 03-02786-S-036. Bubble stuffing wages (Average is .85/hr; Range is .06 to 5.08; List total is 25 individuals with 20 below .85/hr)
The Arc Maryland