Opposition to NCD's 14(c) Recommendations

Resolution 2014-09
Whereas, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) has long been committed to the principle that any worker who experiences blindness as their only disability should earn minimum wage or above; and
Whereas, ACB has also previously acknowledged that some blind workers who have significant additional disabilities may choose to hold employment by working under a 14(c) certificate, issued by the United States Department of Labor, thus allowing them to earn less than minimum wage; and
Whereas, Resolution 2013-13, adopted by ACB at its 2013 national convention, places ACB on record as committing to the repeal of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act with the stipulation that any legislation include specific safeguards, such as a phase-in period for implementation, to protect those individuals working under 14(c) certificates from losing their jobs; and
Whereas, to protect jobs of blind workers who have significant additional disabilities who may choose to work under a 14(c) certificate, the “specific safeguards” stipulation established by ACB must be interpreted and applied rigorously to fully protect the right of every individual with a disability to exercise informed choice; and
Whereas, the National Council on Disability (NCD) has recently published recommendations for what it calls the transformation of the 14(c) Program; and
Whereas, the NCD recommendations offer supported employment in so-called integrated settings as the only concrete suggestion for the phase-out of 14(c) certificates, and NCD's report implies that Congress should in fact adopt supported employment in integrated settings as a replacement for 14(c) certificates; and
Whereas, the United States Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) definition of integrated setting would mean that in implementing the NCD recommendations, a part-time job in a fast-food restaurant at minimum wage, with no benefits, would be an acceptable transition from 14(c), while a job at above minimum wage, with full health coverage, retirement, vacation, and other employee benefits, but which requires the worker to work in the presence of other blind or disabled employees, would not be considered an acceptable transition; and
Whereas, the supported employment model has not proven a successful placement or ongoing employment model for all persons who have multiple disabilities and would severely restrict informed consumer choice if it were to be the only option to replace 14(c) certificates;

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 17th day of July, 2014, at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization declare that the NCD recommendations concerning 14(c) do not satisfy the requirements of ACB Resolution 2013-13 and its stipulation concerning specific safeguards to protect individuals currently working under 14(c) certificates from losing their jobs; and
Be it further resolved that this organization continue its support for repeal of 14(c), as declared in ACB Resolution 2013-13, but shall refrain from participating, either through written statements or joint advocacy activities, with other organizations advocating the repeal and replacement of 14(c) through the implementation of the NCD recommendations described herein.
Ray Campbell, Secretary