In this episode, we discuss sheltered workshops. Sheltered workshops are places that can employ people with disabilities and pay them lower than the minimum wage. Obviously, we think this is horrific.  We talk about them in this episode, and compare them to sweatshops, because Kyle found another article which he thinks is absurd called The Feminist Side of Sweatshops. Enjoy! A transcript of this episode can be found here.

What are sheltered workshops?

If there’s ever been one thing that all people can agree on, it’s that the purposeful exploitation of people is wrong. And yet, according to the Department of Labor:

Under FLSA Section 14(c), a worker who has a disability for the job being performed is one whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, including those relating to age or injury. Disabilities that may affect productive capacity include blindness, mental illness, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, alcoholism, and drug addiction. The following, taken by themselves, are not considered to be disabilities for purposes of paying special minimum wages: educational disabilities, chronic unemployment, receipt of welfare benefits, nonattendance at school, juvenile delinquency, and correctional parole or probation.

Often, these “wages” are much lower than the federal minimum wage. How much lower?  “Rates may go as low as less than a dollar per hour”. Yes, you read that correctly.

This sounds terrible!

It is. Sheltered workshops need to be stopped. It’s that simple. We need to take action. And if you’re thinking to yourself “how bad could it be?” We’ll show you. This map from Rooted in Rights shows all known companies and organizations in the US that have certifications which them to pay workers with disabilities a wage less than the federal minimum. This is a huge problem. Why? Because it’s not only exploitation of labor and people with disabilities. It’s also that this is a problem nobody knows about. And if you don’t have a disability? Odds are you probably didn’t know about this.

There is simply no excuse for them.

Notes from this episode: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Section 14(c) AdvisorFact Sheet #39: The Employment of Workers with Disabilities at Subminimum Wages

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