2012 Washington Seminar
The first week of the month, Roger Cusson, 2nd VP, and Leon Proctor, Jr., Treasurer, traveled to Washington D.C. to join over six hundred other Federationists from around the country. It was the NFB's annual Washington Seminar (beginning in 73) when the blind gather to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill. Roger took the lead on this team (it was his second year) and made all the arrangements and all of the appointments. Leon's impressions of his first national NFB event are attached here with two photos. Our guys did a great job representing our views on Fair Wages and Appliance Accessibility as well as accessibility for all students. There is lots more to be done and anyone can call the offices of our Maine Senators and Representatives to express support and help the effort.
Report written by Leon Proctor, Jr.
Can you imagine walking down the street and seeing a group of blind people without a sighted guide? I can, I was in one of those groups! I walked down the street to a restaurant without any assistance. It was scary but so very liberating at the same time it was fantastic! I was around powerful people who had the confidence in their abilities to go and do what ever they needed on their own it just felt like finally I am not alone anymore! There were over 600 blind or visually impaired people their representing all 50 states including Porto Rico just an awesome experience! The reason we were their was to fight for our rights and ask our representatives to support a bill that has been brought in front of them and two others to get support for. The one I was very passionate about is one I have personally experienced and it is “The fare wages for workers with Disabilities Act of 2011. Their are 41 other disabled groups and organizations in support of this bill. The bottom line is we want 14C abolished! This is a special ticket, which legally allows companies to hire disabled people and pay them under minimum wage. It is unfair and totally unconstitutional. We are not asking for any thing more than to be paid fair wages for fair work! This has gone on for over 74yrs and it is time to end! There are over 300,000. Disabled employees being paid this way! When speaking to our representatives I shared my story with them. I was working for one of these companies and worked my way up to being the top producer in the company. The person I sat next to was getting paid quite a lot more than I was and I was producing over twice the amount he did. Now is that fair? I would say not! The fact still was that I was visually impaired and he was not so it did not matter to the company. I was considered still unable to do more than some others could. Yes that got me very upset because I proved I could do more and be a resource for them. Still it did not change. I stayed due to it gave me at least something rather than nothing. I eventually left the job and moved on to TD Bank! I have worked with TD Bank for over 5yrs now and love it! I do data entry and various other tasks and feel needed! I work in a competitive job making over minimum wage! They give me the training I need to be successful in my life and really treat me like part of the TD family instead of just people they have to hire to make themselves look better in the corporate world!
The other two issues we brought were “The Home Appliance Accessibility Act” and “The Americans with Disabilities Business Opportunity Act” These topics were taken by the two other associates that were with me who also met with our two congress representatives Mike Michaud and staff members for Chellie Pingree and our two state representatives Susan M. Collins and Olympia Snowe. The over all feeling is that the first and third issues seemed to really get the attention of all four. It amazed me as well as the associates that this was the first time they have heard of it! They were as shocked as we were that this was still happening and that this was the first time they heard of it. They are very interested in finding out more about the bill and getting on board to support it! Over all it was a great experience and got the feeling they took notice of our issues and will actually do something about them!