From the July-August 2014 issue of News & Letters
by Suzanne Rose
The government of the United Kingdom has contracted the health division of a company called ATOS, located in Euston, England, as part of its extensive welfare reforms. ATOS assesses claimants on their level of disability and ability to work for disability allowance. Members of WinVisible, based in a Women’s Center in Kentish Town, protested with others from across London outside the headquarters of the multinational ATOS company. The protesters claim the company is profiteering from people with disabilities and that thousands of disabled people have died after having their benefits stopped due to the introduction of the so-called “welfare reforms.”
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The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide soon a case, Harris V. Quinn, challenging the Illinois homecare system. A brief by disability rights organizations argues that the independence and freedom from institutionalization that people with disabilities have achieved in Illinois relies on a key feature of the system at issue before the court. Currently, employees are hired by the individual consumer, but terms and conditions of employment are decided via collective bargaining with the homecare workers’ representatives. If the Supreme Court restricts the ability of homecare workers to engage in collective bargaining, the ruling would risk the significant gains made for people with disabilities and the elderly nationwide.