Saturday, August 9, 2014

Thousands of Disabled Workers in Pennsylvania Paid Far Below Minimum Wage

About 13,000 disabled Pennsylvanians are earning an average of $2.40 an hour in a legal use of subminimum wages.

The majority work almost solely with other disabled people, in a world tucked away from the mainstream labor market.

They’re given menial tasks, like folding boxes, shredding paper or packing mail inserts.

Since 1986, there has been no limit to how little they can be paid. And even the federal government, which issues the certificates that allow employers to pay subminimum wages, doesn’t track the hourly earnings of the workers.

An average worker at the Venango Training and Development Center in Northwest Pennsylvania, for example, earns $1.72 an hour for shrink-wrapping mugs or assembling toys. In Montgomery County, workers are baking dog treats for an average of $3.16 an hour at the Center for Creative Works.

Boxing screws and preparing mail to be sent to prospective college students yields an average of $1.62 an hour at the Milestone Centers in Monroeville.

The federal program as a whole is under attack at state and national levels.

Does it provide opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise have a job? Or does it exploit those who could work for minimum wage if given the chance?

Michael Kissel slapped a packing label between the shoulders of a co-worker.

Prank successful, Kissel got right back to work at the Westmoreland County Blind Association, loading boxes of paper onto a dolly to prepare for shredding.

Kissel, 36, has Down syndrome. He lives in a group home with two roommates. He sees this work as a ticket to independence — his own apartment.

“I want to spend time alone,” he said. “Too many people are around.”

That goal may be nearly impossible considering his pay.

He said he earned $57 on a recent paycheck, which covered two weeks. He usually works 25 hours a week.

Full Article and Source:
Thousands of Disabled Workers in Pennsylvania Paid Far Below Minimum Wage


Thelma said...

There is no other description but exploitation. Is this how our government protects its citizens?

Kathleen said...

This is a total disgrace to not pay people fair wages! This sickens me to see peopke treated like this!

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget the finally-free Jenny Hatch, who for a year was forced by the Hampton-Newport News Community "Services" Board, Jewish Family "Service" of Tidewater, and her parents to work against her will at a boring sub-minimum wage job and to live against her will in a group home.

For that entire year, Jenny Hatch had a loving family home and a job at a thrift shop paying ABOVE minimum wage just waiting for a judge to finally LISTEN and allow her to escape the expensive, destructive "services" of these public agencies and publicly-supported agencies.

The total cost of this as-yet-unaccounted-for fiasco? About $300,000 in totally wasted public and private funds.

And let's not forget the clueless, unethical attorney for Jewish Family "Service" of Tidewater, Gregory M. Pomije, who repeatedly called Jenny Hatch "defiant" for expressing her quite reasonable wish to live in a home with a family who loves her, to work at a wonderful, interesting job, and to attend the United Methodist church of her choice, instead of being told "You can go to the Baptist church with everybody else." "You'll get used to it."

StandUp said...

Hang you head in disgust, Pennsylvania, and then get busy and fix this mess --- FAST.

Finny said...

It's disgraceful and I hope the sunshine of the media changes things immediately.