On May 6, Todd Culver, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Rehabilitation Organizations (MARO), issued a condescending and paternalistic statement aimed at the disability community aptly titled “Controlling Our Own Story”.
After stating that he does not intend to “dignify” us with a response, Mr. Culver characterizes our advocacy as “cynical and snarky” and urges his audience to disregard the voices of Michiganders with disabilities. Ironically, he then makes a plea for a “solution-focused agenda”.
Therefore, we present:
A Solution-Focused Agenda for MARO Members
- Remove Yourself from Michigan’s Independent Living Program
Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are not rehabilitation organizations! The Independent Living Program belongs to the disability community. MARO and its members have no business interfering in Michigan’s Independent Living Program. Four Michigan Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and our Association are supporting subminimum wages and sheltered work through membership in MARO. Several CILs are partnering with the subminimum wage employers you represent. This absurd alliance is shocking to the Independent Living community and must be ended immediately.
- Stop Lobbying in Favor of Subminimum Wages
When you spend time and resources telling “legislators and policy makers, business and community leaders” how unproductive your workers are; how they could never succeed in integrated employment at equal wages; and how you provide “dignity” through subminimum wage employment, you literally devalue our community. If you have to use ableism to justify your behavior, it’s time to rethink what you’re doing, not double down on the disrespect that got you into this mess in the first place. If you want to solve the problem, try treating us with respect – in the workplace, in policy discussions, in public and in private.
- Stop Paying Subminimum Wages
When you are violating someone’s civil rights, the first step is to stop that specific behavior. It’s pretty simple. Stop paying subminimum wages and expanding sheltered (segregated) workshops. Not when you figure out a new way to exploit us; not when the state gets sued for violating the ADA – now.