Thursday, February 25, 2010

The NOT SO FAIR Labor Standards Act


It’s hard to believe that an act passed 73 years ago still has such a negative impact on the lives of workers with disabilities. But, it has and Springfield Area Disability Activists and others think it’s time to throw this law on the trash heap of time.

Access Living started a group about the same time we did. Earl Smith’s group at Access Living called “DAWWN (Disabled Americans Want Work Now)”. He has made a few contacts when he attended the US Department of Labor’s Listening Tour during 2/2010, who are also interested.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1937, specifically section 14c, still excludes certain workers (those with disabilities, farm workers, older workers and others), from basic worker protections like:
• collective bargaining
• minimum wage
• hours,
• and more.

In this section of the act, (14C), businesses and organizations can apply for a “special certificate” that allows them to discriminate against the above mentioned workers. No legislation, like the ADA, or Older American’s Act has improved working conditions of those groups, except for farm workers.

In the 1970’s farm workers organized pressured, committed civil disobedience and went on hunger strikes to improve their conditions; it worked.

Understanding the Law(s)
The federal government issued several fact sheets about specifically about 14C; and a few related laws to give it more teeth. Unfortunately, when I ran it through the Kincaid-Flesh grade analysis software that comes with Word, it is written for someone who completed 22 years of school… in other words, it would take a person who completed post doctoral work to read the law.

That is ONE reason why disability and Access living are starting a Facebook cause and web page. We will convert the Department of Labor’s mumble-jumble into regular English: so people can understand the law and its effects on people with disabilities lives. We also want people to join our cause to demonstrate that this is an issue important to all of us.
It is SADA & DAAWN’s hope that this law never sees its 75th birthday. We hope activists from around the country will mount a campaign and destroy this despicable law.

It’s Been Done!

It’s more than possible. It’s been done! In 2007, Arizona stopped granting “certificates of discrimination”. All the certificate holders predicted job loss, gloom, despair and agony. But it hasn’t worked out that way at all. Read this article to learn more about what is happening in Arizona.

Community “Placements” & Sheltered Workshops

14C covers both people who work in the community as well as sheltered workshop. Some of these workers make less than a dollar a day. I heard someone say, “They don’t know how much money a dollar is anyway. They are just as happy with that as we are with our checks.” It’s obvious that the concept of dignity is absent from this person’s emotional inventory. People with disabilities deserve more than the dignity afforded them in 1937; we need to reward their sometime behemoth effort just to get to work, and the work they do when they get there. The rewards need to be in 2010 dollars, not 1937 dollars. And we need to let them know we believe that all work is honorable and worthy of descent compensation.

Join our cause. Pass this along to your friends and encourage them to join. Let’s bring this issue to the light of day. We will be adding more material, strategies and suggestions for action in the near future.

DOL Conducting “Disability Listening Tours” Now
There is only one disability Listening Tour left in Boston, MA, March 3, 2010 from 8 am to 11 am and from 1 pm to 3 pm. Go to the website below at the appropriate time and you can connect to the live webcast.

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