MVLE is an AbilityOne provider and a part of the SourceAmerica network. The partial government shutdown has closed three of our AbilityOne contract sites, impacting forty employees. We have been able to find temporary employment for nine of those employees, but 31 are still unemployed. MVLE is assisting these individuals with their job search and applying for unemployment benefits as needed.

One of our AbilityOne contract employees, Susan*, lost her job at NASA due to the shutdown. Last September, Susan gained custody of her two-year old granddaughter, as Susan’s daughter is battling substance abuse. Just three months later, Susan is now unemployed and fighting to take care of her granddaughter and give her the stability she so desperately needs. Susan is the sole provider and without a paycheck she is behind on her rent.  She prays that the shutdown ends quickly, as the longer it goes on, the longer she will be uncertain of how long she can stay in her home.

Unfortunately, Susan’s story is not the only one we hear. There are more than 95,000 individuals with significant disabilities employed through the SourceAmerica network of nonprofit agencies including nearly 40,000 employed within the AbilityOne Program. This shutdown impacts nearly all of them either directly through loss of work, or reduction in hours— this loss of income jeopardizes their ability to pay bills and provide food and shelter for themselves and family members, or indirectly as the financial impact on nonprofit agencies increases and are unable to provide necessary services to these individuals.

For many individuals with disabilities, having a job is among the most important aspects of their lives; unfortunately, their voices are not being heard as part of this discussion. To them, a job provides independence, pride and an opportunity to make their dreams a reality. The longer a shutdown lasts, the greater the cost to the American people, especially individuals with disabilities, the economy, and to federal agencies.

MVLE is asking Members of Congress to ensure contract employees, including people with disabilities working through the AbilityOne Program, are given the same consideration for back pay as their federal employee counterparts.