Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Seattle: Workers with disabilities must get minimum wage

Great news for advocates working on labor issues.

Screen shot from the city's bill signing ceremony.
The City of Seattle made it official and has eliminated the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities. Seattle is the first city to do so, following the states of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland and Alaska. The change means Seattle's minimum wage laws also apply to people with disabilities.

Congratulations go out to the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities; the National Federation of the Blind, Washington chapter; and Disability Rights Washington!

Helping out on earlier efforts for a temporary halt: Self Advocates In Leadership; People First of Washington; and AtWork!

We also happily supported this effort. This issue has been a top priority for the self-advocates we work with and alongside.
Special certificates to pay a subminimum wage for learners, apprentices, and messengers as described in RCW 49.46.060 will still be allowed.

Some people are concerned about the effect ending subminimum wage certificates might have on people with developmental disabilities. Washington, and especially King County, has already shifted away from prevocational services (also known as sheltered workshops) and group supported employment, where most individuals earned less than minimum wage. Most DDA clients locally are enrolled in individual supported employment where they make minimum wage or better. Here are the numbers from July 2017.

Others are concerned about people losing hours. Statewide, the difference in average hours between group supported employment (where you see more subminimum wages) and individual supported employment was about 30 minutes a week, 10.9 hours versus 10.4 hours.