Dozens of disabled workers face layoffs after Huntsville flag manufacturer’s federal contract ends
WAFF 48 News
By McKinley Strother
June 28, 2019
“We’re for employment of all persons. We want to make sure people with a disability have a seat at the table.” Wes TylerHUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A federal court ruling ends a 25-year flag contract for a Huntsville-based company. The court upheld the U.S. Veteran Administration’s Rule of Two, meaning that veteran-owned companies will be given priority over AbilityOne nonprofits as bids are awarded.
Phoenix in south Huntsville has been producing interment flags for Veterans Administration since 1994. The company primarily employs disabled or veteran flag-makers.
“The contract was cancelled and the final shipment will be made in about 10 days," said Wes Tyler, Phoenix’s VP of Manufacturing and Business Development.
The AbilityOne Program has its beginnings in a 1938 law that allows nonprofits to be awarded certain federal contracts as long as they meet quality and pricing requirements, and 75 percent of the employees are people with disabilities. Through its AbilityOne contracts, Phoenix employs 791 people, 75 of which are veterans.
Nearly two dozen people work on Phoenix’s contract with the VA to manufacture interment flags, 95 percent of whom have a significant disability. Phoenix has produced more than 2.1 million flags since beginning the contract.
“People have come and gone but we still have a lot of folks like myself that have been here 24 years," said Wanda Duboise.
Duboise is worried about her professional and financial future. “I’m still trying to be optimistic that someway or another it can turn around for us," said Duboise.
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