Goodwill Supports Legislation to Reauthorize and Strengthen Workforce Investment Act

Provision of Senate bill would transform the Special Minimum Wage Certificate from an employment placement tool to an employment, training and rehabilitation program
ROCKVILLE, MD — On July 31, 2013, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted 18-3 to advance bipartisan legislation (S. 1356) to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). As one of the nation’s leading employers of people with disabilities, Goodwill Industries International strongly supports the committee’s actions and urges the full Senate to take up the bill as soon as possible.
WIA was enacted in 1998, and has not since been reauthorized. As a result, the law is long overdue for an update, which Goodwill has urged Congress to address for several years. The bill, as passed by the HELP Committee, includes a provision (Section 511) addressing the Special Minimum Wage Certificate offered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The section stipulates that individuals with disabilities could only be placed in sub-minimum wage positions if they meet certain age-related requirements and receive job training services while employed. Goodwill supports this provision.
“Goodwill believes Section 511 ensures that young people with significant disabilities experience an array of employment settings and are provided every opportunity to exercise informed choice,” wrote Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International, in a letter sent to Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). “The proposed amendments in Section 511 appear to transform the special wage certificate from simply being an employment placement tool, as the certificate currently serves, to an employment, training and rehabilitation program.”
While thousands of employers across the country utilize the Special Minimum Wage Certificate as an employment tool, Goodwill agencies already use it as an employment, training and rehabilitation program, offering these services while providing opportunities for people with disabilities to obtain meaningful employment.
“Goodwill stands ready to work with Congress to achieve the best employment outcomes for people with significant disabilities while abiding by the principles of informed choice and self-determination and the values embedded in the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Gibbons. “We strongly support this bipartisan effort and urge the full Senate to quickly bring the bill to the Senate floor.”