Release Date: 
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

Language to End Subminimum Wages Included in New Minimum Wage Bill

Baltimore, Maryland (May 25, 2017): The National Federation of the Blind today applauded the inclusion of language in the Raise the Wage Act of 2017, simultaneously introduced in the House and the Senate, which calls for the end of the payment of subminimum wages to workers with disabilities.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "The National Federation of the Blind has advocated for the elimination of the subminimum wage since our founding. The recognition of this issue by leaders in both houses of Congress and both parties confirms that the time has long passed to eliminate the unfair and separate wage system for people with disabilities. Time and time again, we have demonstrated that the idea of people with disabilities being less productive is simply an antiquated misconception that has been allowed to permeate throughout society. This wrong and harmful notion has resulted in multiple generations of disabled Americans being grossly underpaid and overly reliant on government assistance programs to survive. We want to work. We want to rid society of these low expectations. For those reasons, we applaud the promotion of economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities set forth in the bill."

Under current law, there is no minimum as to how little an employee with disabilities can be paid. Some workers earn pennies per hour. Section 6 of the Raise the Wage Act of 2017 would implement an immediate minimum wage of $4.25 for all workers classified under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. This absolute minimum wage rate would increase by two dollars per year until it matched the minimum wage earned by the rest of the American workforce. At which point, employers would no longer be permitted to pay employees with disabilities a subminimum wage.