By in Politics

Putting Writing Skills to Work to Help Community

I have agreed to assist with a new project. It will give me something to do while I am not working for another five weeks.

My friend (82-yr-old) is part of the Board of Directors for a non-profit agency which assists in helping people with substantial mental and physical disabilities find work. They have been targeted by a special interest group and lawsuit to require the agency to pay minimum wage for all workers.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows for the employment of certain groups of people at rates below the minimum wage level, in this case to those "individuals whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability...for the work to be performed." ( U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics )

This provision in labor law is designed to put people, who would otherwise not be employable , to work. To require agencies to pay minimum wage to all these workers will bankrupt the agencies. The worst will be that it will put these folks out of any kind of work, at all.

I am meeting with the Director of the agency today, and have agreed to assist with the writing of a letter to our local newspaper. I am going to explore to see if we can get an opportunity to run it as an article, and not simply as a letter to the editor.

Having worked in this particular industry, helping put people to work, I know what will happen if this agency is shut down. It will put about 100 people out of work who will not find other viable work.

I will do whatever I can to help see that does not happen.

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© Copyright 2015- Coral Levang - All Rights Reserved

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markgraham wrote on September 15, 2015, 12:01 PM

Way to go Coral for this is an issue that can help as you say and it also makes you feel better in helping others. Good luck!

Rufuszen wrote on September 15, 2015, 12:04 PM

Good work, I hope it all works out.

lexiconlover wrote on September 15, 2015, 1:08 PM

This is awesome. I can't wait to hear more about this opportunity

MegL wrote on September 15, 2015, 2:45 PM

Hope you get some leeway here. It can be hard going!

Kasman wrote on September 15, 2015, 3:56 PM

It's bit of a double-edged sword isn't it? These people are in fulfilling employment which they would not otherwise be yet they are being paid at a rate below the minimum - almost as if they are not valued in the same way as other workers. Good luck with your project.

Feisty56 wrote on September 15, 2015, 4:28 PM

Now there's a worthy project to sink your teeth into. I wish you well in getting the piece featured as an article rather than just a letter to the editor. Please keep us apprised of the progress here.

DWDavisRSL wrote on September 15, 2015, 4:44 PM

Some so-called do-gooders are only interested in getting themselves headlines and winning their case no matter who actually gets hurt in the process. I hope you have success in shaming them into dropping the lawsuit.

Last Edited: September 15, 2015, 4:45 PM

Dragonfairy1 wrote on September 15, 2015, 5:23 PM

I hope you are successful, trying to force them to pay the minimum wage sounds like pc gone mad.

AudreyHowitt wrote on September 15, 2015, 6:55 PM

This is a wonderful thing you are doing! Good luck!!

wolfgirl569 wrote on September 15, 2015, 7:52 PM

Hope everything works out for them. Many of those people are so thrilled when they can get a job, it would break their hearts to lose one. I knew a young man that had a few strokes but when he was able he loved to go to work. That was his money earned by him.

BarbRad wrote on September 15, 2015, 11:31 PM

There are too many do-gooders who may mean well who have no idea the harm their ideas can do. I'm assuming their best motives here. I know people who are in this category of employee, and I'm quite sure they would have to be dropped by their employers if they had to receive minimum wages. I believe in free markets.

CoralLevang wrote on September 16, 2015, 1:27 AM

I understand what you mean by this, but the Dept of Labor has made this provision in the FLSA years ago. This will affect over 1100 agencies' special programs across our state alone. Programs are being shut down, and now the severely disabled who had some place to go 10-20 hours a week and get paid to shred paper or what they can do, are now not working and cannot find work, because they have impaired abilities. So, they sit at home. That is what is happening. You have to understand that these programs did more them than they did for the employers.

CoralLevang wrote on September 16, 2015, 1:30 AM

What's amazing is that it is a federally funded Rights Group that is trying to take on the Federal Labor Laws that have allowed for these programs.
It really is a shame. It is putting people out of work.

Paulie wrote on September 16, 2015, 3:03 AM

CoralLevang , I applaud you for assisting your friend in writing this letter to the newspaper. Good luck and I hope that you and your friend are successful in stopping this lawsuit.

jiangliu1949 wrote on September 16, 2015, 8:47 AM

It is worthwhile for you to come to their defence. Hope your article that carries weight will attract much attention .

chrisandmark wrote on September 16, 2015, 4:22 PM

Oh wow, good luck with that - a very worthwhile cause and this is something that's being talked about in the UK a little at the moment too

PriscillaKing wrote on September 16, 2015, 5:38 PM

There's a precedent. Student labor is paid less than the minimum hourly wage. Students are likely to be more valuable to an employer than many new employees with major disabilities are...Well, a lot of people in cyberspace have what might be considered major physical disabilities on some jobs, only in cyberspace they've custom-built jobs around their disabilities and become valuable employees or even employers. But if someone has the mental capacity of a six-year-old, chances are that he's not going to be as much of an asset to any business as a sixteen-year-old.

CoralLevang wrote on September 16, 2015, 6:08 PM

Student labor is also being targeted. In fact, these groups, which are federally funded, are taking on the FLSA.

AliCanary wrote on September 17, 2015, 5:58 PM

I hope it helps, although having worked for the princely sum of $1.85/hour myself (as a tipped employee--the minimum is now up to $2.13, whoop de doo), I can understand why people might have problems with a low rate.

CoralLevang wrote on September 18, 2015, 4:19 AM

It's not the families or the people who are working....

It's the special interest groups. They are shutting down the supported employment programs by doing will not benefit anyone... employers are not altruistic enough to hire those who cannot do the jobs they need them to do for the minimum wage, which in WA state is $9.47 an hour, and they are fighting to go to $15. It will also affect them that if they work for minimum wage, they will lose their social security benefits. So, no more work. and they will sit around doing nothing. No productiveness in their lives. No few hours a week making any money. No integration into mainstream world ....

it affects all sides, as I see it.