Stream OPB’s Think Out Loud episode on sheltered workshops here.
As much as 61 percent of working Oregonians with disabilities work in what are called “sheltered workshops,” where they perform assembly line tasks and are paid a fraction of minimum wage — sometimes as little as 40 cents an hour.
But for advocates of the sheltered workshops, these are safe, cost-effective and supportive work environments for people who would otherwise be unable to find employment elsewhere.
In 2012, eight Oregonians, with the help of the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington filed a lawsuit against Governor Kitzhaber and high-ranking officials at the Oregon Department of Human Services in an effort to reform the sheltered workshop system. The Department of Justice announced last week that it would join the lawsuit, claiming that these sheltered workshops violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.