FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Category: 
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Conducts
Successful Protests Across the Nation

Blind Americans Protest the Payment of 
Subminimum Wages to Workers with Disabilities

Baltimore, Maryland (July 27, 2011): The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind people, conducted over twenty informational protests across the United States to raise awareness about the practice of paying wages below the federal minimum wage to Americans with disabilities.  The protests were held yesterday, the twenty-first anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, at the primary district office locations of United States senators serving on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (the HELP Committee).  The HELP Committee is currently considering legislation—the Workforce Investment Act—which would reauthorize the payment of subminimum wages to disabled workers.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Unequal pay for equal work on the basis of disability is unfair, discriminatory, and immoral.  We urge the senators who serve on the HELP Committee to eliminate the indefensible practice of paying disabled workers less than the federal minimum wage.”

A total of twenty-one informational protests were held in sixteen states, including Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, and Wyoming.

On Wednesday, August 3, the HELP Committee is scheduled to vote on the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which contains language reauthorizing the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.   The Rehabilitation Act is supposed to provide services to disabled Americans so that they can obtain competitive employment, but Title V, Section 511 of
the proposed Rehabilitation Act language reinforces Section 14(c) of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which allows certain entities holding special wage certificates to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage.

For more information on the National Federation of the Blind and fair wages for workers with disabilities, please visit www.nfb.org