Eliminating the Subminimum Wage in State Contracting for People with Disabilities

Working to increase inclusion and decrease barriers faced by people with disabilities, Governor JB Pritzker signed an executive order to ensure people with disabilities receive equal pay for work they perform as employees of state vendors.

“Illinois is leading by example by ensuring people with disabilities are not paid a subminimum wage,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “With this executive order my administration is affirming that people with disabilities are valued members of our workforce who deserve the dignity of equal pay.”

Coming during Disability Employment Awareness month, this EO will prevent state agencies from entering contracts with vendors in the State Use Program who pay people with disabilities a subminimum wage. In addition, the EO requires state agencies who currently have contracts with vendors who pay people with disabilities a subminimum wage to re-negotiate those contracts to ensure everyone is paid at least the minimum wage.

“We know that justice is about more than prisons and courts. It’s about equitable access to opportunities in the workplace and equal pay,” said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. “Workers with disabilities earn 87 cents for every dollar earned by those without disabilities. This EO prevents this harmful practice by ensuring people with disabilities are valued and compensated for their work like anyone else. Illinois continues to lead in efforts to make our country more equitable for all and closing wage gaps that impede progress.”

“It’s the state’s duty to set an example for other employers, and I commend the governor on his efforts to increase job opportunities for people with disabilities,” said Senate Majority Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood). “They deserve the dignity of a hard day’s work, and given the opportunity, many of them are incredible workers who truly contribute to their employers and society.”

“Discriminatory practices such as these should never exist, and I’m glad that our state can continue to advance laws that are more equitable and just,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago). “People living with disabilities deserve to be paid their worth, and nothing less.”

“I’m thrilled to see the Governor take this important step,” said State Representative Theresa Mah (D-Chicago). “I’ve been working on the effort to abolish the subminimum wage for a number of years now, and I look forward to continuing the work with the governor and advocates so that subminimum wage is no longer permissible anywhere in the state.”

“I am grateful for the Administration’s steps toward pay equity for those with disabilities,” said State Representative Carol Ammons (D-Champaign). “We must be a leader in this and honor the labor of these workers. People with disabilities are valuable and deserve pay reflect that.”

“We commend Governor Pritzker for taking this important step to eliminate the use of State contracts that pay Illinoisans with disabilities a sub-minimum wage,” said Karen Tamley, President and CEO of Access Living, a leading disability rights and service organization in Chicago. “We hope that organizations who continue to operate outdated and un-just sub-minimum wage employment programs will follow Governor Pritzker’s lead and ensure all disabled people across our state earn a fair wage for their work.”

“Equip for Equality applauds Governor Pritzker for taking this important action,” said Barry Taylor, Vice President for Civil Rights and Systemic Litigation at Equip for Equality. “For far too long, many companies have benefitted from state contracts, but paid their workers sub-minimum wage. Today’s Executive Order will correct that injustice, and is a critical step to making the promise of Employment First a reality in Illinois, so that people with disabilities can engage in competitive and integrated employment.”

Through the State Use program, Illinois encourages all agencies to purchase products and services produced and provided by people with disabilities. The program is intended to provide long-term employment opportunities for people with disabilities through non-profit agencies who contract with state agencies.

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