Heather Peckinpaugh: “Why I Support the TCEA”

An open letter to Senators Mike Braun and Todd Young

The following was written by Heather Peckinpaugh, a disabled worker from Muncie, Indiana:

Paying disabled people less than minimum wage is unjust and must stop. As a disabled woman who has experienced this discrimination firsthand, I am calling on Senators Young and Braun to help stop this injustice by supporting The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (TCEA).

Like many disabled people, my high school did not offer me a chance to receive a full diploma, which also meant that college was not an option for me. One of the few opportunities that was available to me was working at Hillcroft Services — something I am told I should be grateful for.

In reality, though, the experience of working in a sheltered workshop was dehumanizing. I came to understand the reason Hillcroft and others like them pay their disabled employees less than minimum wage is because we are seen as less than human. I know this is true because of how I and the other disabled employees were treated.

Disabled people will always be treated worse when we are separated from our peers and told to be happy with the little they give us. I want to work. Working has the opportunity to provide me with independence and dignity. But that type of work will only exist when disabled people are given the opportunity to work alongside everyone else.

If you support support disabled people having access to real work for real pay, please contact Senators Braun and Young:

Braun: (202) 224-4814

Young: (202) 224-5623

For more accessible means of contact, check out Resistbot and ASAN’s Proxy Caller Project.