Historic grant will now finally help states develop innovative approaches to transition workers with disabilities who earn subminimum wages into competitive integrated employment opportunities where they can earn a fair wage
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chair of the Special Committee on Aging, commended the U.S. Department of Education for launching a historic initiative to help phase out the subminimum wage for people with disabilities. The new grant program—the Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWTCIE)—makes $167 million in funding available to sponsor innovative approaches to transition workers with disabilities who earn subminimum wages into competitive integrated employment opportunities where they can earn a fair wage.
“It’s completely unacceptable that some workers with disabilities are still paid subminimum wages simply because they have a disability,” said Senator Murray. “I’m glad the Department of Education is taking this really important step to help eliminate subminimum wages for workers with disabilities as we continue fighting to ban the practice outright. Workers with disabilities deserve to be paid fairly for their work—it’s as simple as that.”
“Some workers with disabilities spend decades earning a subminimum wage without the opportunity to gain new skills or move to a job that pays a higher wage. Today, the Department of Education took an important step to end this discriminatory practice,” said Senator Casey. “I applaud Secretary Cardona for his leadership and I will keep fighting to pass my Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act to ensure all workers with disabilities are paid at least minimum wage and have the opportunity to succeed in the workplace.”
Senators Murray and Casey fought to secure language for SWTCIE in the FY21 appropriations bill. Learn more about the grant program here.
Senator Murray has long fought to eliminate the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities, tipped workers, and youth workers. The Raise the Wage Act, which she reintroduced alongside many of her Democratic colleagues last year, would do just that. Senator Casey is leading the bipartisan Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (TCIEA), which would end the discriminatory practice of paying subminimum wage to people with disabilities once and for all.