DISABILITY ADVOCATES PROTECT ACCESS

ADA IS PROTECTED AND EXPANDED BY TESTIMONY IN SACRAMENTO

We can thank the remarkable testimony from the disability community January 23 & 24 at the California Building Standards Commission for convincing the Commission to revise some of the most egregious of the code change proposals that concerned us.   Congratulations to everyone who called in and those who attended the hearing.  Great job!

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Here’s what was accomplished:

1. The exception for “structural impracticability” that was proposed to apply to both new and existing construction will be eliminated.

2.  We will no longer be held forever to using the 2010 code for telephones, restrooms, drinking fountains, signs and entrances.  As the proposed code was written, any building that was remodeled and had to make these features accessible would not have to make any upgrades if they met the 2010 standards.  Instead, the this section will be amended to allow this kind of “grandfathering” only for one code cycle back (the code changes every three years.)

3.  An accessible route will be required to water slides, wrestling & boxing arenas, animal containment areas, and raised diving boards & diving platforms

4.  Hotel and motel rooms which are not accessible will still have to have accessible room and bathroom entrances and access into and through the bathroom.  Access into the bathroom had been proposed to be eliminated.

5.  The color contrast required for way finding surfaces for persons with vision impairments will be maintained.

6.  The center line of toilets will have to be between 17 and 18 inches from the wall.  The proposed code was to allow 16 to 18 inches, which would create a barrier for many users.

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Many issues for the vision impaired were discussed by those testifying and will also be the subject of future code development as will be our issues which did not get addressed yesterday.  The Commission also voted to direct the State Architect to work more openly with people with disabilities.

What we will have in the new code that goes into effect January 1, 2014 is the best of the ADA Standards which provide more access requirements than we have had in state code and the best of the state code which we have used since 1982.

It’s amazing how effective the disability community can be.  However, much appreciation must go to the Secretary Anna Caballero who chairs the Commission meetings.  She was most gracious and went out of her way to insure we had an opportunity to make ourselves heard.  Appreciation also goes to the staff for the State Architect, who met advocates the evening of the 23rd to discuss our concerns, which was very helpful in clarifying the issues so that they could be addressed under the parameters of the Commission authority.

DOMESTIC WORKERS BILL OF RIGHTS VETOED

In what may be a victim of election season politics, a landmark bill dubbed “The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights,” Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s AB 889 at the last minute on Sunday 9/30/12, stalling efforts to provide common workplace protections to workers – mostly women – who have historically labored without guarantees of overtime or meal breaks.

It needs to be pointed out that sincere efforts were made to ensure that the rights of disabled people employing their own assistants would not be harmed in the process of granting rights to domestic workers in other situations.  “We worked very hard to make sure that the employers, as well as the workers and the disability rights community who ended up removing opposition, were heard in producing this bill,” Ammiano said.

“It’s long overdue for these workers to get these rights,” Ammiano said. “Almost everyone else has had them for decades. There will be new efforts to bring them protections, but we must always remember that justice delayed is justice denied.”

The bill, AB 889, was the product of months of work and negotiation, culminating with a late agreement that would have sent the matter to the Department of Industrial Relations for formulation of regulations.

California would have been the second state to enact labor protections for domestic workers. New York enacted a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010.  The California bill was supported by more than 100 labor, women’s, faith and community groups including National Domestic Worker Alliance, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, CHIRLA, NAACP, AFL-CIO, and Pilipino Workers Center, and has received prominent endorsements from The New York Times and “Parks and Rec” celebrity Amy Poehler.

Click HERE for a link to the entire bill.  The Governor’s veto message can be viewed HERE.

AB 889 GOES TO BROWN FOR SIGNATURE

Legislation that would give California’s domestic workers such as housekeepers and nannies overtime pay, rest periods and other state labor protections was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday for either a signature or a veto.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 889, went to Brown on a 42-27 vote along party lines. It’s sponsored by the California Domestic Workers Coalition and dozens of labor unions and civil rights groups and is being carried by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.

Ammiano and other advocates said the legislation would protect domestic workers against exploitation and insisted that when the state Department of Industrial Relations adopts regulations to implement it, it would not be applied to teen-age babysitters and other casual workers.

Republicans, however, said that it would raise costs for parents and the elderly who depend on household help.

Supporters of a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights

Throughout the campaign, there was controversy amongst advocates for disability rights regarding the effects of the bill.  Objection #1 for private pay employers of home care attendants was the fear that some employers would not be able to afford to pay the increased benefits required by the bill.  There was also some concern that unintended consequences would occur to further harm private pay employers of lesser means.

Proponents of AB 889 point out that having hundreds of thousands of workers without a basic labor agreement is a major cause for the abuses, i.e. labor and pay violations, outright abuses and threats to personal dignity, suffered by home care workers.

During the last week of the session, a compromise was reached which struck most of the firm statutory language from the bill and replaced that with a framework agreement to require the Department of Industrial Relations to create a fair basic labor regulatory structure by January 1, 2014.

The California Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights was endorsed by the New York Times on August 10, 2012.

Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/08/california-assembly-oks-overtime-pay-rest-breaks-for-domestic-workers.html#disqus_thread#storylink=cpy

Texas, Model for California? Maybe Not!

The Houston Chronicle (CFED)
By: Chris Tomlinson
February 5, 2012

 

Texans politicians (and our local Assemblymember, Dan Logue) like to tout the state’s economic growth, but more and more Texans are finding themselves teetering on the edge of poverty.

… a study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development has found that 27.7 percent of Texas households have no financial cushion in case of an emergency. If you exclude homes and automobiles from the calculation, a full 50 percent of Texans have no assets they could use to survive if they suddenly lost their income.

The findings match up with the latest U.S. Census data on Texas, which found that 17.9 percent of Texans — or 4.4 million people — live below the poverty line. That’s 2.6 percent higher than the national average and ranks Texas 40th in the nation.  When compared to the rest of the country, Texas ranks 41st in financial security.  Is Texas really a good model for California as we go forward out of the latest recession?

 

For the rest of the story, go to: http://blogs.cfed.org/cfed_news_clips/2012/02/many-texans-earn-low-pay-hold.html

Assemblymember Dan Logue explains "voodoo economics".

DISABLED FARE POORLY IN JOB MARKET

January Disability Employment Statistics Released

The U.S. Dept. of Labor has released the first disability employment statistics for 2012. 

Labor force participation for people with disabilities was 20.0 percent, compared to 68.9 percent for people without disabilities, while the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 12.9, compared to 8.7 for people without disabilities. 

Among youth age 16-19, the employment rate was 15.0 percent for those with disabilities, compared to 23.6 for those with no disabilities.  For youth age 20-24, the employment rate was 26.7 percent for those with disabilities, compared to 61.0 for those with no disabilities.

Universal Design table

Detailed information on the state of employment for disabled American workers can be found at: http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/DisabilityEmploymentStatistics.htm