Gov. Walker highlights National Disability Employment Month

MENOMONEE FALLS -- Gov. Scott Walker is promoting "National Disability Employment Month" and encouraging Wisconsin businesses to consider bringing a different kind of diversity to the workplace. 

Diversity in the workplace is usually defined by race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation.  It's often easy to overlook people with disabilities, but they make up 20% of the American labor force, yet unemployment among those with disabilities is as high as those without disabilities.  

That's because companies typically view them as less productive. However, one Menomonee Falls company says that's a misguided perception.

24-year-old Patrick Young makes boxes at Tailored Label Products in Menomonee Falls. 

"I wouldn't even dare try to compete with him," owner Michael Erwin said.

On Tuesday, November 27th, Young even outdid Gov. Scott Walker when it came to folding and stacking boxes. Young is disabled, but also capable of working, and he's held his job at Tailored Label Products -- a label-maker in Menomonee Falls, for eight years.

"He comes into the place very joyous and enthusiastic -- and he leaves the place very joyous and enthusiastic -- and he gets wages competitive with the rest of the marketplace," Erwin said.

Gov. Walker says disabilities shouldn't keep people out of the workplace.

"We have really skilled trades, very sophisticated, many years in the workplace, on the job training and then we have training where we can develop a component for people like Patrick so they can be productive," Erwin said.

Gov. Walker sought to spotlight the dignity that comes with work, but says it also takes a company willing to look beyond society's labels. The irony is it was a label-maker that did just that.

"We proactively run around the place going 'what are some other opportunities for him?'  And he enthusiastically goes into every new assignment," Erwin said.