This came as a shock to me… Last week, the President announced an impending Executive Order to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors. Sounds good on the surface, however, not all employees of Federal contractors are covered by this Executive Order. For some reason, those employees of federal contractors who happen to have disabilities, are not covered.
Full disclosure, Discover Technologies, the company I work for, is also a government contractor so I am at least somewhat familiar with the playing field. We have hired disabled people to do work and have always paid them well above minimum wage. The provision in the labor laws that allows for a sub minimum wage payment per hour, to disabled workers, was established to encourage employers to create opportunities for disabled workers and that was at least motivated by good intentions back in the day. Times have changed since then.
However the issue we are discussing today deals with disabled employees of government contractors who are making serious profits and who should, in my opinion, be paying all minimum wage workers the same minimum wage if nothing else, out of the respect for the disabled workers effort and time. When the disabled go to a restaurant, store or retailer to buy goods and services they don’t get a discount. They may receive disability checks, but that money doesn’t come close to making up for the costs related to their disability. We are not talking about a huge difference to the bottom line of the contractor when considering the amount paid per hour worked by disabled versus regular employees, and again these are employees of Government Contractors. If there was ever a place for the Federal Government to make a difference for disabled wages, it should be here. If a contractor doesn’t want to pay minimum wages across the board, then don’t bid on the contract. I guarantee someone else will. Also, there are many federal tax credits for hiring disabled employees that will more than make up for the difference in the minimum wage paid.
We should all ask the President to reconsider his executive order or issue another that protects disabled employees of government contractors from being exploited and requires all government contractors to pay equal wages for equal time to all employees working under a government contract. If you agree, repost this blog everywhere.