A Manassas-based nonprofit that has sought out employment opportunities for people with disabilities for more than 50 years is creating new jobs at its own UPS Store in Manassas.
Didlake held a ribbon-cutting July 26 to mark the purchase of the store at 9994 Sowder Village Square, in the Target shopping center off Nokesville Road.
Before the morning rush of customers dropping off packages at the store, Didlake officials and nearly 40 others celebrated the nonprofit’s second UPS Store.
The nonprofit opened its first UPS Store at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge in 2015, said spokeswoman Erika Spalding.
Like the Stonebridge store, the new location will also employ eight people, Spalding said.
Didlake works with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. The nonprofit assists people with disabilities through services such as a vocational rehabilitation counselor or an employment specialist.
The nonprofit offers services to about 2,000 people a year across Virginia and employs about 950 people with disabilities a year through over 30 federal and state contracts, Spalding said. Didlake works with 217 businesses, according to Didlake.
“An individual will come in and explore career opportunities,” Spalding said. “We help connect them to businesses, any business. We don’t have a pool of businesses. It’s all focused on the individual. We will help you work with anyone in the community that we can.”
By owning a business, Didlake can offer a supportive environment for employees, she said. Depending on individual needs, Didlake can adjust processes, reorganize the store, provide visual supports or have larger print, among other accommodations.
“We can create an opportunity to gain six months of experience in a supportive environment, which can help them get another job,” Spalding said.
At a UPS Store, Didlake employees can learn about shipping, receiving, mail room organization, print design, copying, faxing and more, Spalding said. At the second UPS store, Didlake employees will work part time and earn anywhere from $11.50 an hour to $15 an hour, Spalding said.
“Our focus is on inclusive communities,” Spalding said. “By coming to this store and using the services of the store, they’re creating an inclusive community.”
A Didlake employee at the nonprofit’s first UPS Store found a job at another UPS Store out of state, Spalding said.
Other jobs that Didlake finds for its clients are at least minimum wage, but the nonprofit also has a goal to find jobs paying higher than minimum wage, said Erik Smith, the nonprofit’s employment services director.
A years-long dispute over union rights for Didlake employees remains unresolved. The nonprofit’s employees working at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington sought to join a union in an April 2017 vote, but the National Labor Relations Board decided in May that a previous 2016 vote against joining a union would stand.
“While they ruled in Didlake’s favor, they did not touch whether employees in a rehabilitative program may opt to join a union,” Spalding said. “Since 1965, our highly-trained rehabilitative services staff has provided individualized, person-centered services to program participants to ensure their success. These are not the types of services provided by unions. At Didlake, we will continue to protect the quality and integrity of rehabilitative services provided to individuals with significant disabilities.”