What’s Wrong Wednesday: Goodwill using minimum wage to employ people with disabilities

 In Miscellaneous, What’s Wrong Wednesday

Goodwill , the national thrift shop chain, has come under fire for hiring people with disabilities using the federal minimum wage exception, while spending tens of millions of dollars per year on executive compensation and travel-related expenses.  Goodwill officials argue that by paying the subminimum wage they are able to employ people with severe disabilities who otherwise wouldn’t be working.  While researching information for this article, I discovered one author who even stated that “disabled workers simply aren’t as valuable.” 

In an investigation by Watchdog.org, it was discovered that Goodwill of Southern California paid more than $1.1 million in total compensation to its then CEO, making him the highest paid Goodwill executive in the country.  A husband-wife Goodwill executive team in North Carolina collected a combined $795,372 in total compensation.  Seventeen Goodwill entities reported executive compensation in excess of $1 million per year.  The Goodwill of the Columbia Willamete was an example of the wage disparity within Goodwill.  In 2011, the lowest paid worker earned $1.04 per hour.  The president and CEO of Goodwill Columbia Willamete earned $742,875 in total compensation.

The National Federation of the Blind has been campaigning to end the “deplorable subminimum wage policy” stating, “people with disabilities have the right and the ability to work in the same jobs earning the same wages as nondisabled workers.”  Goodwill continues to openly defend their wage policies and practices as one of the Goodwill “tools” to help the disabled.

One last story…in February 2013, the News Observer discovered and reported the story of the husband-wife Goodwill executive team that takes home nearly $800,000 per year in total compensation.  The couple’s compensation package included a “membership at Raleigh’s exclusive Capital City Club.”

Representative Gregg Harper (R-Miss) has introduced the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013 (H.R. 831) to close the subminimum wage loophole.  Unfortunately, the bill, according the GovTrack, has just “a 1% chance of being enacted.”  Maybe you want to ask your member of Congress what they think about this.

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