Bill to Eliminate Section 14(c) of Fair Labor Standards Act Introduced
Earlier this week, H.R. 831, The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS). This bill, like its unsuccessful predecessor H.R. 3086 in the 112th Congress, would phase out section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (which currently affords more than 400,000 individuals with the most significant disabilities employment opportunities) over a three year period. As of March 1, the bill has 11 cosponsors.
NISH shares Congressman Harper's goal of increasing the wages of individuals with the most significant disabilities and is actively working toward that goal through a variety of means such as Rehabilitation Engineers, the Quality Work Environment initiative and our Pathways to Employment pilot project. Unfortunately, while well intended, H.R. 831, does not offer any mechanisms to help individuals currently working through 14(c) to bridge the gap to other types of employment. We believe the unintended consequence of this legislation, if enacted, would be the loss of thousands of jobs and further growth of the already unacceptable 75 percent jobless rate for this community.
NISH will not support any legislation which will lead to greater unemployment of individuals with disabilities. We have held dozens of meeting this year with Members of Congress in advance of this legislation and will continue to educate Members of Congress on the unintended consequences inherent in the Bill. We are working collaboratively with other organizations that share our goal of maximizing every individual’s potential, opportunities and wages - but doing so in a measured way that doesn't potentially lead to loss of these qualities for hundreds of thousands of other people with significant disabilities.
NISH will keep you informed through action alerts, public policy updates and through the NISH Weekly Update and ask you to engage your Members of Congress, as necessary, to ensure that this bill in its current format is not enacted into law.
As we have indicated in previous communications, you have the greatest impact on Members of Congress when they visit your organizations and meet individuals with disabilities who are working. They need to hear directly from employees why their job is important. These visits are critical in ensuring you have a voice on any disability related legislative proposal and in ensuring others cannot misrepresent you or your mission to Members of Congress. Please reach out to your Members of Congress today to set up a visit. We are prepared to support--please contact Rachel Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org, for assistance in planning or scheduling a visit. Please act now.