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Chairman Khan and Chairman Barrett
November 19, 2013
Opposition to H.97 "An Act to promote employment for people with disa...
Chairman Khan and Chairman Barrett
November 19, 2013
Opposition to H.97 "An Act to promote employment for people with disa...
Chairman Khan and Chairman Barrett
November 19, 2013
Opposition to H.97 "An Act to promote employment for people with disa...
Chairman Khan and Chairman Barrett
November 19, 2013
Opposition to H.97 "An Act to promote employment for people with disa...
Chairman Khan and Chairman Barrett
November 19, 2013
Opposition to H.97 "An Act to promote employment for people with disa...
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#Maleg H97 Opposing Testimony Feldman 11:19:13

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H.97 is named ""An Act to promote employment for people with disabilities." My testimony summarized: Let's call it by its real name. This is a bill to promote subminimum-wage employment for a certain class called persons with disabilities (PwD), while promoting a situation in which a certain non-profit entity (to be designated by the Council proposed by this bill) would receive certain non-competitive lucrative state contracts while managing those low-wage workers in (generally) sheltered-workshop settings.

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Transcript of "#Maleg H97 Opposing Testimony Feldman 11:19:13"

  1. 1. Chairman Khan and Chairman Barrett November 19, 2013 Opposition to H.97 "An Act to promote employment for people with disabilities" Page 1 of 5 Eileen Feldman, Director Community Access Project, Somerville 02143 CAPSom@verizon.net November 19, 2013 BY EMAIL Representative Kay Khan (Kay.Khan@mahouse.gov) House Chair Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Room 146 Boston, MA 02133 Senator Michael Barrett (Mike.Barrett@masenate.gov) Senate Chair Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Room 313A Boston, MA 02133 Re: Written testimony of Eileen Feldman OPPOSING H97 "An Act to promote employment for people with disabilities" Dear Chairman Barrett and Chairman Khan: Please accept this written testimony regarding the November 19, 2013 Hearing of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities on DDS bills, including H97, "An Act to promote employment for people with disabilities." My name is Eileen Feldman. I was born with digestive and sensory disabilities and live with multiple chronic conditions. I currently lead a grassroots organization, Community Access Project Somerville (CAPS). We work with low income families and individuals to help them to claim their fundamental rights to integrated and accessible opportunities, services and jobs in employment, public accommodations, lifelong education, and political, social and cultural events. Prior to founding CAPS, I served as Chair of the Somerville Commission on Persons with Disabilities. H97 is anything but a bill to "promote employment for persons with disabilities in the Commonwealth." Let's call it by its real name. This is a bill to promote subminimum-wage employment for a certain class called persons with disabilities (PwD), while promoting a situation in which a certain non-profit entity (to be designated by the Council proposed by this bill) would receive certain non-competitive lucrative state contracts while managing those low-wage workers in (generally) sheltered-workshop settings. Here are some bullet points to illustrate how backwards this proposed bill is: • These job "opportunities" for PwD would not create any meaningful skills training, job advancement, retention or skill-training. Instead, H.97 defines the direct labor jobs available to PwD as not inclusive of supervision, administrative, inspection positions: "D. "direct labor" means all work directly relating to the provision of services, but not work required for or relating to supervision, administration or inspection"
  2. 2. Chairman Khan and Chairman Barrett November 19, 2013 Opposition to H.97 "An Act to promote employment for people with disabilities" Page 2 of 5 • Where it stipulates that the Council would... "(8) ensure that the work provides opportunities for integration with nondisabled persons, fair pay and adds value to the service provided." ... That language provides absolutely no guarantee that this direct labor will provide opportunities for workers to acquire any competitive job skills- it's an empty promise. In fact, very few, if any, disabled or nondisabled individuals acquire a competitive job skill through performing menial tasks in sheltered, segregated, subminimum-wage work environments. Furthermore, such subminimum-wage jobs do not receive the same protections as other American workers.1 • The Council membership includes 9 persons, of which 7 are described by qualifications and knowledge associated with procurement and marketing of "community rehabilitation programs". The remaining two are merely named as "two persons with disabilities." (Section IV(a)(4)) These are clearly token minority positions. Instead of being directly appointed by the Governor, they are chosen by the Commonwealth's Procurement officer and two others appointed by the Governor. Furthermore, members are not even offered any cost reimbursement for attending such meetings, so the token disability members would not even be reimbursed for transportation, printing or other necessary costs, which could certainly be a "handicap" to their regular attendance. Instead, H.97 stipulates: D. Except for the regular pay of public employee members, council members shall serve without compensation or cost reimbursement. • The definition employed within this proposed bill of "persons with disabilities" is an archaic, stereotypical concept. It doesn't even reference the Federal Rehabilitation Act definition accurately. H.97 says: "F. "persons with disabilities" means persons who have a mental or physical impairment that constitutes or results in a substantial impediment to employment as deemed by the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973..." FACT: The Rehabiliation Act's definition of PwD does NOT define disabilities as a substantial impediment to employment; rather, the Rehabilitation Act defines disability as any physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits one or more major life activities.” • H.97 is in direct opposition to the values expressed within Governor Patrick's E.O. Executive order 5262 (Feb. 2011), which states, " (Section 3.) All state agencies shall develop and implement affirmative action and diversity plans to identify and eliminate discriminatory barriers in the workplace; remedy the effects of past discriminatory practices; identify, recruit, hire, develop, promote, and retain employees who are members of under-represented groups; and ensure diversity and equal opportunity in all facets, terms, and conditions of state employment. 1 For more information on subminimum wage and supported employment, please read the National Council on Disability 2012 Report and August 2013 findings: http://www.ncd.gov/publications/2013/08012013/ 2 ORDER REGARDING NON-DISCRIMINATION, DIVERSITY, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION at http://www.mass.gov/governor/docs/executive-orders/executiveorder526.pdf
  3. 3. Chairman Khan and Chairman Barrett November 19, 2013 Opposition to H.97 "An Act to promote employment for people with disabilities" Page 3 of 5 • Finally, there is currently a nationwide civil rights effort to repeal the set-up of such subminimumwage sheltered-workshop conditions for PwD. The effort is specifically to repeal Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). Section 14(c) of the FLSA has allowed entities holding what are called “special wage certificates” to pay their disabled workers less than the federal minimum wage. These entities are almost always segregated workplaces, sometimes called “sheltered workshops,” that employ workers with various disabilities, including sensory, physical, and cognitive or developmental disabilities. As of Oct. 17, 2013, there are currently 68 national civil rights organizations working to repeal Section 14(c) of the FLSA. For your conveinience, the listing of those organizations is included as page 4 of this testimony. In summary, please vote "Ought NOT TO PASS" on H. 97. This is a thoroughly backwards direction for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; instead, we should be working to phase out all sheltered workshops in Massachusetts; and, at the same time, be examining whether impediments currently exist that may be preventing the state's vocational rehabilitation settings from accomplishing their legally-mandated goals, which are: to provide direct services to people with disabilities which help them to become qualified for competitive, fair-wages employment in integrated settings. All Massachusetts residents deserve the freedom- and dignity- to reach their fullest economic and social potentials. This bill promotes the very opposite of dignity for PwD. Thank you, Sincerely, Eileen Feldman Eileen Feldman, Somerville MA Eileen Feldman, Somerville MA
  4. 4. Chairman Khan and Chairman Barrett November 19, 2013 Opposition to H.97 "An Act to promote employment for people with disabilities" Page 4 of 5 Nationwide civil rights groups supporting the repeal of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act: ADAPT (formerly known as American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today) ADAPT Montana AHEAD (Association on Higher Education And Disability) Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB) American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) American Council of the Blind (ACB) APSE (formerly known as Association for Persons in Supported Employment) Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) Autism Society of America Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law Best Buddies International, Inc. Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) Blindness: Learning In New Dimensions (BLIND), Inc. California State Council on Developmental Disabilities Center for People with Disabilities (CPWD) Center for Self-Determination Center for Social Capital Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (CHRUSP) Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI), Atlanta Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Collaboration to Promote Self Determination (CPSD) Colorado APSE (formerly known as the Colorado Association for Persons in Supported Employment) Colorado Center for the Blind Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) Community Link (formerly Employment Link) Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) Council of Schools for the Blind (COSB) Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) disAbility Solutions for Independent Living, Inc. Equal Rights Center (ERC) Family Voices Colorado Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Houston Center for Independent Living Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) Japanese American Citizens League Jewish Guild for the Blind Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired Little People of America (LPA) Louisiana Center for the Blind National Association of the Deaf (NAD) National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) National Disability Institute (NDI) National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA) National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) National Federation of the Blind (NFB) National Fragile X Foundation (NFXF) National Organization on Disability (NOD) National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) National Youth Leadership Network, Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) Not Dead Yet (NDY) RISE Center for Independent Living Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) Service Employees International Union (SEIU) TASH Texas Advocates Texas Association of Centers for Independent Living (TACIL) United Spinal Association Xavier Society for the Blind
  5. 5. Chairman Khan and Chairman Barrett November 19, 2013 Opposition to H.97 "An Act to promote employment for people with disabilities" Page 5 of 5 cc: Senate Vice Chair James T. Welch (James.Welch@masenate.gov ) House Vice Chair Marcos A. Devers (Marcos.Devers@mahouse.gov) Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (Sonia.Chang-Diaz@masenate.gov) Sen. John F. Keenan (John.Keenan@masenate.gov) Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry (Linda.DorcenaForry@masenate.gov ) Sen. Robert L. Hedlund (Robert.Hedlund@masenate.gov ) Rep. Danielle W. Gregoire (Danielle.Gregoire@mahouse.gov ) Rep. Jonathan Hecht (Jonathan.Hecht@mahouse.gov ) Rep. Jason M. Lewis (Jason.Lewis@mahouse.gov ) Rep. Nick Collins (Nick.Collins@mahouse.gov ) Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier (Tricia.Farley-Bouvier@mahouse.gov ) Rep. Paul R. Heroux (Paul.Heroux@mahouse.gov ) Rep. Daniel Cullinane (Daniel.Cullinane@mahouse.gov ) Rep. Kimberly N. Ferguson (Kimberly.Ferguson@mahouse.gov ) Rep. Shaunna O'Connell (Shaunna.O'Connell@mahouse.gov ) Committee Counsel Lisa Rosenfeld (lisa.rosenfeld@mahouse.gov) Somerville Rep. Denise Provost (Denise.Provost@mahouse.gov)

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