Rep. Meier Continues to Protect Jobs for Workers with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities

At a press conference held in the State Capitol building on Wednesday, State Representative Charlie Meier led the charge in opposing legislation pending in the House of Representatives (HB 793) that would have a negative impact on 14c workshops and put as much as 3,591 workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities out of work across the state of Illinois if the bill were to become law.

“We need to create opportunities before we close the others,” said Rep. Charlie Meier. “These clients need the dignity of having a job as this legislation could result in over 3,500 jobs lost for folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities, that’s about three-fourths of these jobs currently filled. We must work on this bill, we need to make some changes, we want to keep everybody with their job, and maintain the chance of having a job.”

State Representative Charlie Meier was joined by State Representative CD Davidsmeyer (R-Murrayville), State Representative Mike Coffey (R-Springfield), State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet), and Doug McDonald, CEO of Sparc, a 14c workshop located in Springfield.

House Bill 793 would require 14c workshops to pay individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities minimum wage. As written, this bill provides no financial assistance and would leave service providers scrambling to find a way to pick up the extra costs. Illinois needs to support workers, but this approach is a flawed strategy that will have consequences for employees and providers.

“While this bill sounds good in theory, it would ultimately lead to individuals losing their job and having zero income,” said Rep. Mike Coffey. “Service providers do a fantastic job, but many of them would be unable to pay minimum wage to their employees if this bill is passed. Protecting our job force should be a priority and this bill does the opposite.”

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities currently work under a 14c certificate. This certificate allows them to earn subminimum wage. This approach does two things: Provides job opportunities and allows service providers to offer efficient services to disabled individuals.

The CEO of SPARC, Douglas McDonald, voiced his concerns about this bill, “Implementing HB793 would be a tremendous undertaking with high risks,” said McDonald. “It is essential that any substantial change in services be carefully considered before any action is taken. This bill pushes for implementation based solely on guesses.”

*View Wednesday’s press conference in its entirety here.