FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Cedar Rapids Gazette Column: “Ashley Hinson disrespects the work of disabled Iowans”
Hinson’s Argument for Subminimum Wages Leaves Iowa Workers Behind
DES MOINES – State Sen. Ashley Hinson’s embrace of a subminimum wage to defend her opposition to a minimum-wage increase is just another example of her long string of attacks on health care and workers’ rights. During the debate, Hinson asserted that workers with disabilities should be paid less than other employees. Hinson’s closed-minded argument that companies can save money by paying workers with disabilities lower wages is disrespectful to hard-working Iowans who contribute to our economy and deserve to be paid a living wage.
Read what Billy Stumpf, a Dubuque resident, has to say about Ashley Hinson’s attacks on good-paying jobs and differently-abled Iowans:
The Gazette: Ashley Hinson disrespects the work of disabled Iowans
“October marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month. In light of this occasion, I’m calling on Iowa state Rep. Ashley Hinson to apologize for the deeply hurtful comments she made during a recent congressional debate and the ableist rhetoric she has continued to promote as part of her campaign.
“For more than five years, my son Kyle worked a job in Dubuque making approximately $3.50 an hour — $3.75 an hour below the federal minimum wage. […]
“No, Kyle was legally paid a subminimum wage because he has a disability. The same is true for nearly 250,000 other Americans.
“While trying to defend her own record of failing to support a minimum-wage increase, Hinson went out of her way to rationalize paying people with disabilities less, arguing that employers hire people with disabilities because of the very fact that they can pay them less — all but declaring that my son’s labor is worth less compared to that of his non-disabled peers.
“As the father of a 30-year-old young man with Down syndrome, I’m utterly appalled that a state representative is using her platform as a candidate for Congress to defend the exploitation of our disabled workforce. My son has faced many obstacles in his life; the last thing he should have to do is educate the very person who is supposed to represent his interests on the moral wrongness of an archaic labor practice that pushes disabled folks further into poverty.
“Unlike Hinson, I know the realities of our exclusionary economic system firsthand. Kyle worked in a mostly segregated environment, known as a sheltered workshop, that employs people with disabilities separate from able-bodied people. The hours he spent at work had him mostly shut off from the outside world, which provided little opportunity for job training that would help him integrate into competitive employment. I became fearful that keeping Kyle employed at a sheltered workshop would act as a bridge to nowhere, as it does for so many disabled Americans. […]
“But even with Kyle earning minimum wage, Hinson and her party are actively working to undermine the Medicaid system that provides the job coaching allowing him to thrive in competitive integrated employment.
“Hinson is part of the Republican legislative majority that has gutted Medicaid in Iowa and has remained silent on the Republican-backed lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which protects families like mine. Her actions, like her rhetoric, speak volumes about her lack of commitment to supporting all of her constituents. […]
“Kyle deserves a decent shot at life, competitive and integrated employment, and, at the bare minimum, health care coverage. If Hinson is truly running to represent Iowans, as she claims, she’ll apologize for her disrespectful comments and commit to policies that work for all Iowans, not just those without disabilities. And if she’s not interested in apologizing, she shouldn’t be running.”