Marc Shapiro’s Jan. 2 article on the issue of wages for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (“Opinions Divided on Subminimum Wage”) did an excellent job in conveying why there is a need to continue expansion of job opportunities that pay at or above minimum wage while cautioning what would occur if we completely disallow sub-minimum wages that may be paid to
people with significant disabilities. While these individuals’ disabilities may greatly diminish their productivity, they do not inhibit their desire to work nor their pride in earning.
Of the nearly 1,000 people supported in our day and employment programs at The Arc Baltimore, 53 percent are employed in jobs paying at or above minimum wage. Less than half of those we support are based at area centers and are involved in other activities in the community. Of these, 45 to 50 people get the opportunity to work for a limited number of hours each week earning 50 percent to 90 percent of the minimum wage.
Shapiro also put the right focus on the interest of The Arc, Chimes and other agencies in finding more companies that would hire people with disabilities, whether for office filing and administrative support, janitorial or landscaping jobs or customer service jobs. We have a lot of capable people who just need a chance to show what they can do, and our team is ready to back them up and make it a win-win situation.