For years, activists, legislators, government agencies, and other organizations have been telling one side of the sheltered workshop story. Take a moment today to learn the truth about the myths that surround sheltered workshops and the people who choose to work there.
Professionals representing hospitality, food service, child care, retail, manufacturing, health care and financial services sectors came to hear new approaches to fulfilling the need to attract qualified workers. Human services agency representatives, educators and State Representative staff members also attended to hear best practices to share with their constituents.
Featured keynote speaker, Traci Jones, Corporate Director of Human Resources for Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, provided attendees with a valuable overview of the benefits in hiring associates with unique abilities. Making a case for answering the need for quality workers was supported further with the statistics she shared, including the remarkably low turnover rate (8 percent) for people with disabilities versus the general population (45 percent).
After the presentation, a moderated discussion among attendees provided valuable insights on how companies can make the case to hire associates with disabilities. With more than 75 percent of people with disabilities reporting being unemployed or underemployed when they would rather be working more, they represent an untapped market for employers.
Employers shared the need for getting over perceived hurdles, including concerns about accomodations, abilities, and perception that an entire job description needs to be completed by one person.
Lincoln Burr, Executive Director for Rehabilitation for Wisconsin in Action, said “If you are a manufacturer who assigns set up and tear down to every employee, can that task be completed by an associate with a disability? This possibility may open opportunities for others in the organization to create more product, improving profitability.”
Hiring associates with disabilities can prove to be better for the bottom line for a company in addition to bringing so many more cultural benefits for every employee.
Work centers for the disabled provide a useful service for businesses while allowing individuals with special needs to gain work skills and autonomy. But new federal regulations would make life difficult for these charitable operations, potentially causing some to close their doors.
These centers have historically been exempt from minimum wage laws, but proposed rules from the federal Labor Department would end the exemption. Regulators are also considering mandating "integrated work settings," which means they would have to employ more higher-priced, nondisabled workers to work with those who are disabled.
For many centers, that means they would have to fire disabled workers to hire more regular staff.
"That just doesn't make sense to me," said Charles Markey, the president of the Arnold Center in Midland.
The producers of the 20th Century Fox movie, "Joy," are spreading a different kind of joy among the employees of Algoma Mop Manufacturers this holiday season.
Mops created by the Algoma-based company's employees made their "debut" Friday in the Christmas Day movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.
The movie is based upon the story of Joy Mangano, who overcame hardship and became an inventor and home-shopping entrepreneur, building a business dynasty that began with the Miracle Mop in the 1990s.
When the prop master (the person in charge of all props for a movie) couldn't find enough of the original Miracle Mops for the movie, she contacted Algoma Mop Manufacturers, a subsidiary of East Shore Industries, which employs more than 80 adults with disabilities.