Didlake Awaiting Decision from the National Labor Relations Board

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2018                                                                                              

For more information, contact:
Erika Spalding, Didlake Inc.

espalding@didlake.org

Didlake Awaiting Decision from the National Labor Relations Board

Manassas, Virginia (June 11, 2018) – Didlake®, a Manassas, Virginia-based nonprofit that creates opportunities that enrich the lives of people with disabilities, is awaiting a decision by the National Labor Relations Board regarding whether a group of employees at the Army National Guard Readiness Center, a site at which the organization provides services on contract, are deemed statutory employees by the NLRB and therefore covered by the National Labor Relations Act.

For the past 27 years, Didlake has participated in the AbilityOne® Program as a SourceAmerica®-affiliated nonprofit agency provider of employment opportunities for people who have significant disabilities. Through this program, Didlake provides business service solutions for the federal government and employs hundreds of people with disabilities across more than 30 contracts for various onsite services.

As a requirement to participate in this program, 75 percent of the direct labor hours on a contract must be performed by individuals with significant disabilities who are unable to engage in competitive employment over an extended period. To ensure these individuals are successful, Didlake provides an umbrella of training, counseling and other rehabilitation services.

Over the past few weeks, a group of Didlake employees have been on strike, supported by Public Service Employees Local Union 572, affiliated with the Laborers’ International Union of North America. The union has filed a petition with the NLRB seeking to represent all employees at the site, including those participating in the AbilityOne program. However, for more than 60 years the NLRB and the courts have ruled that employees who are in a “primarily rehabilitative relationship” with their employer are not statutory employees and therefore not covered by the NLRA.

Under the NLRB order from Brevard Achievement Center, Inc. and Transport Workers Union of America, Local 525, AFL–CIO, Case 12–RC–8515, the NLRB stated, “The imposition of collective bargaining at the rehabilitative stage could interfere with the rehabilitation process itself, and thereby delay the day when the clients can enter into the mainstream of economic society. Given a long history of not injecting collective bargaining into the rehabilitation process, we are unwilling to suddenly change course and possibly place that process at risk.”

The NLRB further pointed out, “Because collective bargaining could constitute a harmful intrusion on the rehabilitative purpose of those programs, assertion of the Board’s jurisdiction would work at cross purposes to the programs that the dissent claims to be advancing.”

“Didlake is not anti-union, and we are not saying that people with disabilities should not be able to unionize or be part of a union,” said Didlake CEO Donna Hollis. “Didlake is committed to protecting the rights of people with disabilities, which includes ensuring they do not lose services and supports currently provided to them. We are highly concerned that unionization for people with disabilities participating in the AbilityOne program will threaten the rehabilitative services afforded under the program.”

To determine whether employees on a contract are statutory, the NLRB examines the nature of the relationship between the individuals and their employer. In October 2016, the Regional Director concluded that the employees at the site were statutory employees. Didlake has since submitted an appeal for review by the full NLRB.

“The case is in review with the Board, and we are waiting for their decision,” said Hollis. “We are committed to concluding this case effectively and justly, in the interest of protecting the rights of people with disabilities.”

Didlake anticipates a ruling by the end of the calendar year, and that decision will determine Didlake’s next steps.

About AbilityOne

The AbilityOne Program is among the nation’s largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. The Program is administered by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, the operating name for the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled. Through a national network of more than 550 nonprofit agencies, the program provides the Federal Government products and services at fair market prices. The procurement of these products and services results in employment of more than 45,000 individuals.

About Didlake

Didlake, Inc. is an internationally accredited nonprofit passionate about discovering and cultivating new opportunities for people with disabilities to achieve their employment goals and expand their engagement with community members.

Didlake provides rehabilitative services, including supported employment and day support services, and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

For over 50 years Didlake has created numerous paths to employment and community involvement in support of our mission – creating opportunities that enrich the lives of people with disabilities.

About SourceAmerica

SourceAmerica offers business solutions you’ll feel good about. Through our network of nonprofits, we supply products and services that meet the strictest quality standards, all at a competitive price. We match government and commercial contracts for work with nonprofits that employ a dedicated workforce to get the job done—people with significant disabilities.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Erika Spalding at 703-361-4195 ext. 1364 or espalding@didlake.org.