Minnesota Hopes to End Subminimum Wage

In 2021 a task force was established by the Minnesota Legislature in a special legislative session to create a plan and offer suggestions for the gradual elimination of paying people with disabilities subminimum wages on or before August 1, 2025.

The target date for the elimination of subminimum wages in Minnesota was not determined by the task team. It advocated for a plan to share and gather new data on employment for individuals with disabilities in order to establish a strategy for phasing out subminimum wages if future law eliminates them.

Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Lake Hanksa, met with disabled workers at Enterprise North on North Broadway last Thursday.

Dana O’Brien, executive director of Enterprise North, said that 29 employees complete tasks including cleaning, office work, and assembling items, for a number of area businesses including Fastenal, Dittrich Specialties and Richardson Place in New Ulm and Koozie Group of Sleepy Eye.

According to O’Brien, Anoka Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, Human Services Ranking Minority Member, and Sen. and Human Services Committee Chairman John A. Hoffman, D-Champlin, spearheaded bipartisan support for continuing sub-minimum wages for workers with disabilities.

Last year, approximately 4,800 disabled Minnesotans were paid subminnimum wages. Many of them were employed in sheltered workshops. For those working in these settings, the average hourly pay is only $3.34.

Subminimum wage is perfectly legal because, under US labor law, certain people with disabilities have been allowed to be paid less than the minimum wage since 1938. During the Great Depression, this law was introduced to encourage more people to find work.

Disabled people should be paid a fair wage for their work. Data show that we are conscientious, creative, and dependable at work. It is time for everyone to be paid fairly.


“All in: Easterseals Plan for Disability Equity.” Easterseals, Easterseals, https://www.easterseals.com/our-programs/employment-training/all-in/. Busch, Fritz. “Phasing out Subminimum Wages for Workers with Disabilities Concerns Torkelson.” The Journal , 6 July 2023, http://www.nujournal.com/news/local-news/2023/07/07/phasing-out-subminimum-wages-for-workers-with-disabilities-concerns-torkelson/.

Crann, Tom, and Lukas Levin. “Lawmakers Weigh Doing Away with Subminimum Wages for Minnesotans with Disabilities.” MPR News, 15 Mar. 2023, http://www.mprnews.org/story/2023/03/15/lawmakers-weigh-doing-away-with-subminimum-wages-for-minnesotans-with-disabilities.

Selyukh, Alina. “Workers with Disabilities Can Earn JUST $3.34 an HOUR. Agency Says Law Needs Change.” NPR, 17 Sept. 2020, http://www.npr.org/2020/09/17/912840482/u-s-agency-urges-end-to-below-minimum-wage-for-workers-with-disabilities.

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