Thursday, September 19, 2013

What could possibly be wrong with this?

Deal would offer casino jobs for the disabled
Alana Melanson, Sentinel & Enterprise - September 19, 2013

So a casino company agrees with a developmental disability service provider to "open up employment opportunities" for the developmentally disabled people they serve, in a proposed "slots parlor". Isn't that nice? 

That's some hard-hittin', question-askin' journalism right there!

The only hint that anyone might question the wonderfulness of this "deal" is an almost joking comment that the Arc of Opportunity people aren't worried their clients will become addicted to gambling. First of all, isn't that at least a somewhat reasonable concern? But second, isn't it the least of the possible concerns here?

Are these job slots going to be pre-designated for developmentally disabled applicants referred through the Arc? Or, are they just agreeing to consider the Arc's people? What about people with disabilities not affiliated with Arc? If I lived in Leominster, Mass. would I have the inside track on one of those jobs?

How much will these workers be paid? Are they going to get at least minimum wage or more? Will there be clear opportunities for individuals to advance to better, and better-paying positions if they do a good job? Will any of the Arc workers get benefits, like health insurance?

Will the casino company pay the workers directly? Or, will they pay Arc of Opportunity a fee to staff all these positions with whoever, with Arc in turn paying the workers?

Will the other, non-disabled casino staff work alongside the Arc workers? Or, will there be walls … literal and figurative … between the Arc crews and the "regular" workers?

If an Arc worker has a concern or complaint, who will they take it to? Will they talk to the Arc, or the casino company?

If the casino company doesn't like the arrangement down the line, can they just end the agreement and all the Arc workers lose their jobs?

Why involve the Arc at all? If the positions are open anyway, why doesn't the casino just market the jobs to Arc and other disability agencies, indicating their openness to hiring, but leaving individuals to decide whether or not to apply on their own? Why the package deal? Or, would individual disabled applicants not be welcomed, if not herded and wrangled en mass by the professionals at Arc?

Is it possible that the casino company hopes the positive PR they get from this "memorandum of understanding" will help them win approval for the slots parlor, which local residents will vote on in a referendum?

It's funny how this article was clearly written as a "good news" piece, but I don't feel good about it at all.



Most of my questions assume that there really is more to this than an empty agreement ... that the Arc is basically going to supply the slots parlor with labor to fill certain jobs, similar to how a temp agency works. But if this isn't the case, if it's literally just an agreement to "open" jobs to people with disabilities, then essentially the company would be saying, "We agree to abide by non-discrimination laws ... aren't we awesome? Please vote to approve our slots parlor!"