NCD letter applauding introduction of the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act

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February 4, 2019

The Honorable Bob Casey
United States Senate
393 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Bobby Scott
Chairman
House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives
2176 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Cathy McMorris Rodgers
U.S. House of Representatives
1035 Longworth House Office Building
Washington DC 20515

Dear Senator Casey, Chairman Scott and Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers:

I write on behalf of the National Council on Disability, a non-partisan federal agency that advises the President and Congress on disability policy issues, to applaud the introduction of the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (HR 873 and S. 260).  NCD recommended the systematic phase out of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in our 2012 report, National Council on Disability Report on Subminimum Wage and Supported Employment. As part of the process of drafting that report, NCD pulled together a Committee of Council Members to look closely at the issue of subminimum wage employment of people with disabilities. While recommending the phase out of 14(c), NCD was careful to note:

The Committee recognized early on in this project that any statement of public policy or recommendation to the U.S. Department of Labor or the Congress to simply eliminate all Section 14(c) certificates would jeopardize the security of many individuals who are currently involved with the program…what is needed is a conversion or transformation strategy and phase-out of a relic in policy left over from the 1930’s.[1]

The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act takes this same approach to the elimination of 14(c) by providing states and individual providers with a meaningful opportunity to transform the way that services are provided to people with disabilities from the outdated subminimum wage in a sheltered workshop model to one that focuses on supports and services leading to and sustaining competitive integrated employment. The bill also provides an opportunity for providers that have already achieved this goal to build on their success by competing for technical assistance grants that will help them build the capacity to assist other providers and states in their transformation efforts. As the Council stressed in our latest report reaffirming the call for the phase-out of 14(c):

…employment providers that want to innovate, reinvent, and modernize their services to be responsive to the preferences of people with disabilities, their families, and employers, and the changing laws and, importantly, the new demands of the market, need technical assistance and financial support to do so. And the time to begin this effort is now…[2]

The alignment between the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act and NCD’s repeated call for the phase-out of 14(c) and a shift toward a system that supports people with disabilities and enables all of us to embrace our potential as active participants in the U.S. economy and vested beneficiaries of the American dream could not be any clearer. NCD commends you for your work on this bill and looks forward to working with the sponsors and co-sponsors of this bill to achieve the transformation to competitive employment for all Americans with disabilities. Please feel free to contact Phoebe Ball, Legislative Affairs Specialist for NCD in regards to this letter and all your efforts on behalf of people with disabilities at pball@ncd.gov or (202) 272-0104. We look forward to working with you on this important and long-overdue transformation of employment policy.

Respectfully,

Neil Romano
Chairman




[1] Subminimum Wage and Supported Employment. Washington, D.C.: National Council on Disability, 2012.  https://www.ncd.gov/publications/2012/August232012