Mail Bag

Sheltered workshops in peril

Posted

To all my friends and family, no matter your political stances or who you voted for, please read.

I am the sister to a wonderful man who works in a Sheltered Workshop. My older brother, Jake, is employed at Empac Group Inc at the Sullivan facility. After celebrating his 20th work anniversary at Empac in 2020, Jake continues to find value in his work there. Empac has helped Jake learn the importance of quality in his work. I have often asked my brother if he would like to find other employment outside of a Sheltered Workshop, and he always says “You know, sis, I like my job just the way it is.” You see, the American Rescue plan, as well as, the upcoming bills — The Time Act & The Transformation Bill — all call for a phasing out of 14c of the Fair Labor Standard Act. While I understand the concept, I do not believe all understand what those bills will do to the future of thousands of individuals with disabilities who are employed in Sheltered Workshops. Jake’s employment, like for many, is not just a job. Jake has the opportunity to be active and socialize with many people – people who understand him and truly care about his well-being. The elimination of 14c could close his place of employment – his CHOICE of employment. If the Workshops close, Jake will have good life at home, on the farm with our family, but it is not the life he wants. He thrives on consistency and enjoys keeping his regular work schedule. He is familiar with the tasks he completes at work, and new tasks elsewhere cause him much anxiety. If the government passes the elimination of 14c in any bill, it will have taken away a job from my brother, Jake, who is a son, uncle, brother-in-law, grandson, cousin, church member, restaurant lover, movie goer, and an American citizen who values his work at Empac Group.

I am also a manager of a Sheltered Workshop in Rolla, — Phelps County Industrial Solutions. The employees of PCIS love their jobs and many have told me that they have nowhere that will accept them if Sheltered Workshops are forced to close. So while I can write you personally about my brother, I have many more people under my protection who have chosen their employment at PCIS and do not or cannot find other options of employment. I urge you to not only use your power to SAVE 14C, but to also, share this with other legislators to use their power in the same way.

Laura Giebler-Taylor

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