2 WI Reps Say Minimum Wage Changes Will Affect Disabled Workers

Steil and Grothman tell Biden the stimulus bill's proposed removal of subminimum wage protection could cost disabled workers their jobs.

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Washington, February 19, 2021 | comments

By: Dan Shalin (Patch Wisconsin)

WISCONSIN — In a letter sent to President Joe Biden Friday, two Wisconsin representatives said preventing companies from paying cognitively disabled workers below minimum wage will cause thousands of those workers to lose their jobs.

Bryan Steil (R-Janesville) and Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah) signed the letter along with two other Republican representatives: Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina.

In the letter, Steil and Grothman point to a provision in the House's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that calls for the termination of Section 14(C) from the Fair Labor Standard Act. Currently, this section gives employers the ability to apply for certificates that allow them to pay below minimum wage to workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 


The representatives argue that an increased minimum wage coupled with the removal of Section 14(C) will destroy job opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

"Unfortunately, your administration appears to be racing through consideration of a coronavirus relief package," the letter to Biden states. "When we have discussions on far reaching policies, we need to know what the potential impacts are."

The letter argues the majority of employers who hold Section 14(C) certificates are Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRP), which help support employment access and vocational training for individuals with disabilities, while also providing services like transportation and qualified rehabilitation professionals.

However, without 14(C) protection, it is argued, many of these opportunities will cease to exist and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be limited to day rehabilitation services or unpaid volunteer work, or have no option other than being at home.

"(This is) a choice that has an enormous economic impact on families and a demoralizing, negative effect on the individuals left without the job of their choice," the letter states.

The letter concludes with a plea to Biden:

"On behalf of these working men and women, their families and their advocates, we strongly urge you to fully consider the impact that a one-size-fits-all policy has on every member of society. Everyone deserves a chance to have meaningful employment and feel valued."

According to the New York Times, House Democrats are finalizing the details of the economic relief package and moving toward a vote on the final legislation by the end of next week. 

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