By: Jacob Adams
August 14th, 2021
The Washington Free Beacon
Matt Thibodeau is a professional packager whose work includes shrink-wrapping, glueing, labeling, bagging, and package assembling. He eats lunch with his coworkers, and he typically gets home before 5:00 p.m. When he gets his check every two weeks his colleagues cheer for him, even though the average take-home pay at his Pennsylvania plant is $3.40 per hour, less than half the federal minimum of $7.25.
Matt, like many of his coworkers at Associated Production Services, Inc. (APS), has intellectual and and physical disabilities. Matt’s disabilities have not stopped him from enjoying a 14-year career in shipping, but a bipartisan legislative push to eliminate a 1938 provision—known as Section 14(c)—that allows people with severe disabilities to collect sub-minimum wages could. Gail Thibodeau, Matt’s mother, sees the law as a safety net for people with severe mental disabilities that helps them find meaningful work and companionship outside the home. Thibodeau is concerned that people with disabilities like her son will not be able to find work if employers are forced to pay them as much as their coworkers.