Action Alert: Raise the Wage Bill National Call-In Day, March 26!

March 25, 2019

Senators Bernie Sanders (VT) and Patty Murray (WA), Representatives Robert “Bobby” Scott (VA), Mark Pocan (WI) and Stephanie Murphy (FL) have introduced the Raise the Wage Act in Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and to phase out subminimum wage practices. Subminimum wage (Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act) allows employers to pay as little as $1 per hour, or less, to workers with disabilities if they are considered less capable than a person who is not disabled. We need your help to pass this Act and get Americans with disabilities paid a fair wage. 

On March 26, call your Senators and Representative on national call-in day and ask them to support the Raise the Wage Act and eliminate the sub-minimum wage for disabled workers. If enacted, this legislation would:

  • Sunset the much-criticized ability of employers to pay workers with disabilities a subminimum wage through certificates issued by DOL;
  • Raise the federal minimum wage to $8.55 this year and increase it over the next five years until it reaches $15 an hour in 2024;
  • After 2024, adjust the minimum wage each year to keep pace with growth in the typical worker’s wages;
  • Phase out the outdated subminimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at a meager $2.13 since 1991; and,
  • Phase out the subminimum wage for workers under the age of 20.

Call your Member of Congress and request that they co-sponsor and vote to pass the Raise the Wage Act (S.150H.R.582)!

Take Action

Call your Members of Congress

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to your Senators or Representative. Once connected, make sure you give them your name and identify that you are a constituent. Below is a sample script for your calls. 

Sample Call Script: 

Hello, this is [Name]. I’m a resident of [Town, State].  I am calling to express my support for the Raise the Wage Act. Raising the minimum wage to $15/hr and ending subminimum wage practices is a win-win for workers AND the economy. Eliminating the sub-minimum wage for disabled workers is long over due in achieving real justice and economic security.  I am asking [Member of Congress’ Name] to cosponsor the Raise the Wage Act and vote YES to ending the sub-minimum wage and raising the minimum wage to $15/hr. Thank you for taking my call! [IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address and zip code to ensure your call is tallied]

[Optional Add On]

Personal stories are the most effective form of advocacy. Talk about why ending subminimum wage and raising the minimum wage is important for you or someone you know and love.  

Email your Members of Congress

Contacting Congress provides unique links to email your Senators and Representative directly. 

Tweet your Members of Congress

Twitter has become a powerful tool to communicate with elected officials directly. Find your Senators and Representative on Twitter and tell them to co-sponsor the DIA!

Additional Resources:  

TIME Act: It’s Time We Raise Our Expectations

November 16, 2018 | Sarah Patnaude, 2018 AAPD Summer Intern

What if the Federal Government said that you are not productive enough to be guaranteed a minimum wage due to having blonde hair? I bet that would incite outrage. Though this is exactly the outlandish discrimination the disability community experiences.

Many know that the Fair Labor Standards Act enacted in 1938 provides protections to workers, including the basic protection of the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25/hour. What many do not know is that there contains a clause that excludes the disability community from these protections. Section 14(c) allows employers to obtain a special certificate from the Department of Labor that will permit them to legally give their workers with disabilities a fraction of the pay workers without disabilities earn, simply due to their disability.

Based on the misconception that workers with disabilities cannot compete with their nondisabled peers in the workforce, this practice is just one of the many ways in which society insinuates that the disability community is inferior. Entities that pay their workers with disabilities subminimum wages demonstrate a core belief that those individuals do not have the capacity to be a contributing member of their staff.

I grew up with peers, professionals, and strangers constantly telling me that I would not be successful, that I could not and would not hold a job because I was blind. I was encouraged to minimize my dreams because of my disability.

The truth is people ultimately adjust to their surroundings. If someone is frequently confronted with low expectations, then that individual is going to lower their own standards for themselves to meet the low goal. For years, I lowered the bar for myself because I was taught that having a disability would hinder my ability to be a self-sufficient, contributing member of society. What a wonder that does to someone’s self-confidence and self-worth. But if people with disabilities, including myself, are met with the same assumptions and standards we as a society have of those without disabilities, then we will raise our own bar, providing us with the drive to accomplish more. This cycle of pushing to do bigger, to be better, and to be more is actively apparent with nondisabled workers, so why is it not applied to disabled workers?

Because the truth is disability does not equate to lower ability, lower competency, nor lower productivity.

That’s why the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act, H.R. 1377, is so important. By passing this legislation, Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act will be phased out within a six-year time frame. Ultimately, the TIME Act understands the truth about workers with disabilities: that we are equal to our nondisabled peers. Ending this unjust practice of subminimum wages will create a more competitive work environment for all workers by promoting a change in our attitudes regarding disability in the workforce.

IT IS TIME we raise our expectations. IT IS TIME individuals with disabilities have equal rights and protections in the workforce. IT IS TIME we pass the TIME Act.


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Sarah Patnaude is a 2018 AAPD Summer Intern. She interned with the Feminist Majority Foundation.

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