Raising minimum wage may have consequences for disabled people

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The ‘Raise the Wage’ Act is currently awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate.

Though it means $15 per hour wages — advocates for people with disabilities say it may have unintended consequences if passed.

Raise the Wage includes a stop to 14-C certificates, which allow employers to pay a lower minimum wage based on disabled employee productivity.

Removing the special minimum wages might mean disabled people will have to compete with the general public.

In those circumstances, some disabled people may not compete — losing their jobs.

“You get two benefits from working on special minimum wage program — One, the dignity of work and earning a paycheck. And, the actual dollars in that paycheck to supplement your living expenses,” said Brad Saathoff.

Advocates like A-Team of the Black Hills believe that legislators looking at the repeal have good intentions.

But, they feel that in Washington D.C. they might not understand what the repeal would mean for disabled workers in Rapid City.

Bret Whitmore’s daughter is disabled and lost her job due to government provisions.

“There’s assumptions associated with eliminating 14-C,” started Whitmore. “There’s an assumption that only focusing on the wages, focusing on the dollar figures is automatically going to make people, people with disabilities lives’ better. That isn’t true. And maybe integrating them with folks that don’t have challenges, maybe that’s going to make their life automatically better. That doesn’t always work.

Advocates say that allowing disabled workers to have options is better for their quality of life.


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