Minimum wage laws should cover all disabled workers

The Des Moines Register’s Clark Kauffman wrote a must-read piece for today’s paper about a bunkhouse for mentally disabled men at the Johnson & Johnson Egg Farm near Goldthwaite, Texas. The bunkhouse is

the last run by the same Texas family who controlled Henry’s Turkey Service and the Atalissa, Ia., bunkhouse from which dozens of mentally retarded turkey plant workers were evacuated by the fire marshal in February.

Click here for the full archive of Des Moines Register stories about Henry’s Turkey Service and its facility in Iowa. The exploitation of workers there over many years is the subject of numerous current investigations. The horrific story had political fallout as well. Iowa Senate Republicans rejected Gene Gessow’s nomination to head the Department of Human Services, saying that as acting head of the department, Gessow “failed to be forthright about the Atalissa bunkhouse situation during important legislative oversight committee hearings.”

I’ve highlighted a few parts of Kauffman’s latest report after the jump, but I encourage you to click over and read the whole piece. Then ask yourself why any companies are allowed to pay the mentally disabled less than minimum wage. If a person is competent to do work a corporation needs done, that person deserves the same pay a person with no disabilities would receive.

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