U.S. Deals Favoring Blind Draw Scrutiny as Rivals Struggle

February 5, 2012

Angela Meredith, who is legally blind, says she owes her job to a U.S. government program that reserves contracts for disabled workers.

"I wouldn't be able to find work anywhere else," said Meredith, 58, who earns $7.75 an hour making army uniforms at a factory near Baltimore, under a much-praised initiative started in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Now, with the government poised to reduce spending, a counter view is emerging of programs that favor groups such as the disabled and prisoners: It holds that such set-asides are unfair to companies seeking government work.

"We're slowly seeing ourselves squeezed out of the game," said Kurt Wilson, vice president of business development and government affairs at Selma, Ala.-based American Apparel, one of the largest military uniform companies, with about $100 million in annual revenue. 

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