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Skill development centers provide needed jobs

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Your Opinion

Editor:
As the retiring executive director of FAYCO Enterprises, I was extremely disappointed with an NBC segment of Rock Center last Friday. I believe that the segment was not “fair and balanced.” There is a video on YouTube that does an excellent job of explaining how we pay the people we work with in our agency (www.youtube/QD_G8LqdL98). We will also have a link to this video on our website (www.fayco.org) under Industrial Projects.
On behalf of the people with significant disabilities we serve, FAYCO Enterprises Inc. endorses a full array of approaches for enhancing employment opportunities consistent with the following principles and values.
First, we recognize that work is a valued activity, both of the individual and society. We support a full array of community-based employment opportunities for persons with the most significant disabilities provided by qualified rehabilitation professionals, including supported employment and customized employment opportunities provided in competitive integrated settings; and self-employment. The right of individuals with significant disabilities to make informed choices should also include the right to work in skill development centers (sheltered workshops) and disability-focused non-profit businesses.
Skill development centers offer jobs at wages that are based on the skill-set of the person doing the job. The worker protection legislation, known as Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, ensures access to these types of jobs for those individuals who qualify.
It’s disappointing that some organizations want to eliminate placements in skill development centers. Eliminating skill development center jobs is counter-productive, because it will replace a skills-based wage with no wage at all. It will remove job options for persons with disabilities that took decades to develop. Without skill development centers, choices are narrowed or eliminated, and opportunities are lost.
All people have the right to choose what job they do and where they do it, consistent with their strengths, needs and abilities.
As I leave to retire, please join me in recognizing that, while there are some who have abused programs utilizing the sub minimum wage program for their own advantage, we have not! We have always worked hard to maintain the highest standards for our work programs that have served more than 1,700 individuals in our community.
C. Robert Lindberg
Executive Director
FAYCO Enterprises