President-elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan Provides Critical Reforms and Support for People with Disabilities Including an End to the Subminimum Wage
January 15, 2021
Last night, President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his first legislative package — the American Rescue Plan — to control the Coronavirus pandemic and provide overdue relief to the American people, state and local governments and small businesses. Larysa Kautz, Melwood’s President and CEO, released the following statement on the proposal:
STATEMENT: Melwood welcomes the introduction of President-elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan and applauds the critical reforms and supports it provides for people with disabilities. Hundreds of Melwood employees, many with disabilities, have been on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic ensuring safe federal workspaces so the nation’s business can continue. Melwood appreciates the recognition and action taken in the American Rescue Plan to provide relief and support to our workers with disabilities and their families.
Melwood has fought for years to eliminate the subminimum wage for people with disabilities and we praise the Biden administration for including provisions in this bill that will finally end this practice. Today there are only a handful of states that have abolished the subminimum wage and Melwood is proud of our advocacy work that led to the elimination of the practice in the state of Maryland.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that, in 2019, only 19.3 percent of people with disabilities were employed compared to 66.3 percent of the employment population without a disability. For far too long, many people with disabilities only had the option of working in segregated settings paid pennies on the dollar under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The subminimum wage reforms included in the American Rescue Plan’s proposal represent a long-overdue step for the disability community.
Together with the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (H.R. 873/S. 260), introduced in the Senate by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and in the House by Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) in the 116th Congress, the American Rescue Plan shows that real change is on the horizon.
We look forward to working with the new administration and the 117th Congress on the details of the American Rescue Plan and helping to ensure its passage.
For more information, please contact James Tyll, Melwood’s Director of Communications & Marketing, at [email protected] or (312) 613-0021.
Melwood is one of the largest employers of people with disabilities in the country, employing more than 1,600 workers – nearly 1,000 of whom are people with disabilities. Melwood offers job placement, job training, life skills for independence, and support services to more than 2,500 people each year in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Melwood also has an inclusive summer camp program for children and provides employment and support services to veterans and active duty military members who have experienced service-related trauma or injury. For more information, visit www.Melwood.org.
Vice President of Government Relations