I live in Washington State, which is governed (ruled?) by a heavily DemocRat legislature and ruled by a far-Left DemocRat Dictator (who has been ruling by decree since March of 2020). In my legislative district, both senators and “representatives” are, of course, DemocRats. Yesterday in the mail, I received a “2022 Session Report” from one of my so-called “representatives”, who definitely does not represent me.
His 2022 session report glowingly referred to all the wonderful laws passed by the legislature and signed into law by our Dictator. Within this report, he described a new law which I had never heard about before, and would probably not even know about if I had not read his report. It seems that our very well-intentioned DemocRats decided that it was grossly unfair for disabled Washingtonians in some situations to be paid a special “sub-minimum” wage, for which there have been provisions in state law for decades. So, in their concern for the working disabled of our state, they repealed that sub-minimum wage. Now, all employers of disabled employees will be subject to the same very high minimum wage that all of the state is now subject to ($14.49 per hour for the state, higher in Seattle). Here is his statement.
Last year we eliminated sub-minimum wage certificates and this session we are following up by repealing the statute allowing the Department of Labor and Industries to issue special certificates for the employment of individuals with disabilities at wages lower than the applicable prevailing wage rate. This change ensures that workers with disabilities are valued and treated equitably.
What that really means is that many workers with disabilities will now be unemployed, as this new law spells the death-knell for sheltered workshops which are run as businesses. For those of you who are unfamiliar with sheltered workshops, they are businesses which offer employment to disabled workers who might not be able to work in a standard environment. These companies employ social workers, vocational-rehabilitation specialists, occupational therapists, and other personnel to train and work beside the disabled, so they can be productive. Sheltered workshops enable many otherwise-unemployable people to find productive work, earn money, and help support themselves. The costs of running such a workplace are very high, and the sub-minimum wage paid to disabled employees recognizes that they are high-maintenance employees. The vast majority of such employees are thrilled to be working, and do not object to their wage levels. Believe me, I know this because I did an internship at an agency that sponsored sheltered workshops, while studying for my Masters in Psychology.
So, as usual, when the Left thinks they are “helping” disabled employees by mandating they be paid the high state minimum wage, they are wrong, and they actually will be destroying many of the jobs done by the disabled. That will raise the cost of many services previously supplied by sheltered workers, and might throw many social workers and therapists out of jobs themselves. And how many previously-employed disabled workers will lose their jobs, and become public charges again? How many parents of disabled adults will now have to again be full-time caregivers?
That’s a great example of the destructive effects of Leftist “good intentions”.