Workplace Choice for Individuals with Disabilities
For avid readers of my newsletter, you may have noticed that the title of this section is the same as the title of a section in last week's newsletter. I would like to again highlight the importance of this issue and let you know that I am continuing to fight for workplace choice and flexibility for individuals with disabilities.
This week, I joined Congressman Bryan Steil (WI-01), Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger (TN-01) and Congressman Madison Cawthorn (NC-11) in sending a letter to President Joe Biden expressing our concern over the threat of elimination of section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
You can read more about why keeping section 14(c) in place is so important by clicking here. Briefly, this allows certain employers known as Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRPs) to employ individuals with disabilities at a special minimum wage. I have visited all eight CRPs in Wisconsin's Sixth District, and at all of them, the individuals who work there tell me that they enjoy their work not because of the paycheck, but because of the dignity that comes from completing an honest day's work. They often live with family members and receive other assistance to ensure a comfortable living, so their job is a way to be productive with their friends instead of a way to make ends meet.
Our letter outlines why these jobs are so important and warns the President that provisions in the $1.9 trillion "COVID relief" bill could lead to the elimination of section 14(c) and the termination of these jobs.
Click the image to read the full letter
Here are some common misconceptions about CRPs that were included in last week's newsletter, too.
Q: Don't individuals with disabilities deserve enough money to live?
A: Yes. However, individuals who work at CRPs under 14(c) certificates have access to benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.
Q: Why do these individuals work at a CRP if they don't need the money?
A: For anyone, having a steady job and earning a paycheck is a point of pride. These individuals deserve the dignity that comes from feeling productive and contributing to society.
Q: Why don't these individuals get a job outside of the CRP?
A: Many do! CRPs are set up to assist individuals with disabilities in their work and teach them valuable skills, including how to operate in the workplace. Many people work for a CRP for a period of time, then use those skills to get a job elsewhere. Most people who do gain employment elsewhere, however, are only able to work four or five hours per week, so many retain their job at the CRP in addition to working part-time for another employer.
Q: Shouldn't individuals with disabilities be paid $15/hour instead of the CRP's profits going toward making the executives richer?
A: CRPs are most often non-profit and money they do make is reinvested back into the company to assist the employees. I have been told separately and on more than one occasion by different CRPs in Wisconsin's Sixth District that if government regulations require CRPs to pay $15/hour, they would likely be forced to lay-off all employees and close their doors permanently.
Q: Why would it be bad if CRPs closed permanently?
A: The individuals who work there would lose their job and many would be relegated to adult daycare. Employees of CRPs all over the Sixth District have told me that while it's nice to have a paycheck and some spending money, their favorite part about having a job is that they get to be with their friends at work. This support system is not available to them with other employers, which is why many have more than one job.
Career and Technical Education Month
I often talk about the importance of career and technical education (CTE). It is particularly important to me as the representative for Wisconsin's Sixth Congressional District because our district has more manufacturing jobs than any other congressional district.
As a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, I have spoken with Members of Congress from other states about their CTE systems and have participated in hearings examining best practices for CTE and apprenticeship programs. I can confidently say that Wisconsin's CTE system is among the best in the country!
We still, however, have a skilled labor shortage. Too often, high school students are pushed into thinking that traditional four-year college degrees are the only way to succeed in life. Many would graduate in less time, accumulate less debt and make more money if they had initially pursued a CTE degree. I have heard stories around Wisconsin from people in their 30s and 40s who got a four-year degree, didn't like their job and went back to school to learn a trade. While it's good that they now have a job they love, it's not uncommon that they are still saddled with student loan debt from their four-year degree, which they would not have had if they had pursued a trade right after high school.
February is Career and technical Education Month in Wisconsin. Let's support our state's top-tier manufacturing industry and A+ CTE system by highlighting the importance of CTE and that pursuing a career in the skilled labor market is a great option for everyone, including recent high school graduates.
Solid Start Program
The men and women in the armed forces serve our country proudly and patriotically. Often, however, there are questions and complications when transitioning from military to civilian life. That is why the Veterans Benefits Administration established the Solid Start Program to help veterans navigate this transition.
Solid Start exists to provide information about the benefits available from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), give guidance and support and answer questions veterans may have about this new chapter in their lives.
Please feel free to forward my newsletter or this link to more information on the program to a veteran you know or a service member who is preparing to enter civilian life.
In honor of everyone who has served in the office of President of the United States, my office remained open and ready to serve you on Presidents' Day
I was happy to meet with the Wisconsin Agribusiness Association to talk about the future of Wisconsin agriculture.
I had a great time speaking with members of the Fond du Lac Noon Rotary about how I’m fighting to make sure our Wisconsin values are being represented in Congress.
Click the image above for more information
Ash Wednesday was the start of Lent. In this season of reflection and preparation, let’s remember to focus on Christ’s life, death and resurrection.
These students from South High School in Sheboygan know the importance of engaging in the civic process. It was great to speak with all of these future leaders about what we’re working on in Congress.
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As your Congressman, I’m here to serve you. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to my offices in Fond du Lac and Washington. If you enjoyed this newsletter be sure to forward it to your family and friends so they can stay informed on what I’m doing in Washington and the Sixth District.
You can also stay up-to-the-minute by following me on Facebook (Congressman Glenn Grothman), Twitter (@RepGrothman) and Instagram (@RepGlennGrothman).