Media Alert: Michiganders with Disabilities to Protest Subminimum Wages at State ADA Celebration September 17

Media Contacts:

  • Susan Fitzmaurice / Southeast Michigan / 248-767-2217 / susan@disabilitysavvy.com / adamichigan.wordpress.com
  • Eleanor Canter / Muskegon / 231.755.5063 / 765.414.2014 / eleanorcanter@yahoo.com / peeractionalliance.com

While the nation debates minimum wages, Michiganders with disabilities will use the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 to protest the rampant and persistent practice of subminimum wages for people with disabilities across the state.

Michigan citizens with disabilities from across the state will gather on the Michigan Capitol Lawn in Lansing during the ADA 25th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.

Michigan’s ADA celebration is being sponsored by the very organizations who lobby to continue the antiquated practice of paying subminimum wages to people with significant disabilities in segregated sheltered workshops. The event is sponsored by Peckham, the largest provider of sheltered work in Michigan, and MARO, an association of subminimum wage employers whose members include Source America, which is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice and at least four Inspectors General.

Many Michiganders with disabilities were shocked to learn that the very sponsors of the rally to celebrate the disability community’s most important civil right law were the perpetrators of subminimum wages, a practice that inhibits equal employment opportunities to Michiganders with disabilities. Kelly Buckland (Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living), Billy Altom (Executive Director of the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living), and Tom Olin (Director of the Road to Freedom Bus Tour) all cancelled planned appearances at the event as a statement of conscience and solidarity.

In a shocking turn of events, the Road to Freedom Bus is now headed back towards Michigan – this time to support the Michigan citizens with disabilities calling for change. If advocates are able to raise the funds needed to gas up the bus, the seasoned disability rights warriors aboard plan to join the protests to end subminimum wage and help usher in a new era of consumer control in Michigan.

“The ADA was written by us for us, not to make money from oppressing us. Let that stop here and now” explains Tom Olin, Captain of the ADA Bus.

The protesters believe that subminimum wages are unethical, dehumanizing and discriminatory – and a violation of the ADA. Sheltered workshops unfairly segregate members of the disability community, which violates the integration mandate – the seminal principle of all disability rights legislation, including the ADA. Protesters support an end to subminimum wages immediately and the responsible phase-out of segregated employment for Michiganders with disabilities.

Specifically, they are asking Michigan Centers for Independent Living – taxpayer funded nonprofits that are meant to be disability rights organizations – to cease their financial support of subminimum wage employment through membership in MARO. The Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) and the state’s IL Association, Disability Network / Michigan, both headed by Sara Grivetti, played a large role in planning the celebration and are also being asked to end their financial relationships with Peckham and MARO.

“Make no mistake – real people with disabilities do not partner with and financially support subminimum wage employers. Centers for Independent Living are required by law to be staffed and directed by a majority of people with significant disabilities. We must return consumer control to Michigan’s Independent Living Program immediately – or we will continue to witness the erosion of our civil rights” explained Eleanor Canter, one of many organizers of Thursday’s event.

Anyone supporting civil rights for Michiganders with disabilities is welcome and encouraged to join the protest. Our petition is available online.

Resources:

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One thought on “Media Alert: Michiganders with Disabilities to Protest Subminimum Wages at State ADA Celebration September 17

  1. Pingback: September 17 Rally to End Subminimum Wage – Press, Materials, and Ways to Help | Peer Action Alliance

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