Some of you might remember when I posted about Section 14(c) and the issue of subminimum wage still plaguing our country today; the fact that diverseABLED workers are treated even now as if they are only worth mere pennies per hour is a farce. To recap, New Mexico has not yet repealed their subminimum wage laws, though several other states have, and three companies in our state are certified to pay their diverseABLED employees considerably below a living wage. Plain and simple, these laws are legalized human rights violations.
The good news, however, is that a golden opportunity has arrived for voices of diverseABILITY to be heard louder and clearer than before. First off, if you have not done so already, we at UNTAPPED urge you to sign our petition at https://chng.it/mvnptZ7v and share it wherever you can. But, of course, our mission goes beyond the issue of subminimum wage—it is about occupational justice as a whole. Building on the campaign explained in our petition, we are taking the primary mission of UNTAPPED towards a grander scale and working with New Mexico lawmakers to help diverseABLED individuals realize their dreams.
The legislative session for our state began on January 17th, and we have been in contact with several representatives and senators who we firmly hope will champion our ongoing occupational justice campaign—for diverseABLED workers to have the support, guidance, and resources they need to succeed and thrive. One legislator of note is State Representative Liz Thomson, who has a child on the autism spectrum and a longstanding career as a physical therapist. Thomson is one of the current sponsors for our House Bill, which you can view here to follow its progress: HB 355: Developmental Disability Transitional Education Programs.
If you have been wondering how to best aid UNTAPPED in our campaign, one of the most productive avenues is to research who your senators and representatives are and reach out to them about our mission to revolutionize supported employment services. Even better, however, would be to gather with us at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe! The legislative session formally ends on March 18th, and until then, we are excited to visit the Roundhouse on a weekly basis and keep promoting our goals for true occupational justice for diverseABLED workers. What is at stake here is recognizing that individuals with diverseABILITIES contribute just as much to the working world as those without. There is still a widely distributed narrative in our society that ignores and disrespects the actual capabilities of the diverseABLED, and the moment to flip that narrative around is now.
Until the next story,
Aaron Kelly Anderson
a.k.a. “A PhD on the Spectrum”