FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Category: 
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

Blind Americans to Protest Subminimum Wages

Members of National Federation of the Blind Plan
 Informational Pickets Across United States

Baltimore, Maryland (July 20, 2011): The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind people, announced today that its members will conduct 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 will take place on July 26, 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.  The senators who serve on the HELP Committee must decide whether they stand for the outrageous exploitation of disabled workers, or for true equality for Americans with disabilities.”

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 references 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.