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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

BBB and the Subminimum

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of people on the autism spectrum.

Shirin Ali at The Hill:
The National Down Syndrome Society points out that people employed under the 14(c) certificates are often trained to perform tasks that don’t actually build capacity or transfer into skills that will help them land other jobs. “This practice reinforces the stigmatic misconception that people with disabilities are less productive and creates an artificial competitive barrier to future employment opportunities.”

Congress is trying to fix this, with Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) announcing in November the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (TCIEA) that aims to provide grants to states or employers to go toward transitioning to a business model that pays workers with disabilities at least minimum wage.

Biden’s Build Back Better bill incorporates much of TCIEA by providing $300 million toward a multi-year grant program that would assist states and employers to transform their business models to provide at least the minimum wage applicable in that state. It doesn’t completely outlaw FSLA provisions that allow subminimum wage, but through issuing grants the federal government will require states to provide assurances that it won’t permit employers to use subminimum wage certificates.

Build Back Better also proposes giving $24 million in grants to states that have already eliminated the certificates allowing subminimum wages and another $6 million toward establishing a national technical assistance center to assist states and employers in their transition to end subminimum wages.