Thursday, August 1, 2013

Part 2: Where’s The Good in Goodwill?

Federal law sets a wage floor so every American worker can experience a degree of self-respect and a sense of fairness in the workplace. Goodwill seems to have over looked this, as they refuse to pay its workers with disabilities the federal minimum wage. Goodwill may not be the only organization which fails to pay minimum wage to disabled workers, but they are probably the best known to the general public, and their lobbying has carried a lot of weight in Congress.

Since its founding in 1940, The National Federation of the Blind has fought to repeal the unfair, discriminatory, and immoral provision found in Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, which allows the secretary of labor to grant special wage certificates to employers permitting them to pay their workers with disabilities less than the minimum wage.

Assuming people with disabilities lack capacity is UNFAIR!
Denying disabled workers the federal minimum wage is discriminatory!
Paying six-figure CEO salaries while paying disabled workers pennies is immoral!

On February 23, 2012, Marc Maurer, President of The National Federation for The Blind, sent a letter to legislators regarding fair wages to all disabled workers and in support of H.R. 3086, the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011. In his letter he writes;

“There was a time in our nation's history when African-Americans were believed to have limited capacity and were fit only for slave labor on plantations. There was a time when women were thought capable only of maintaining the family home, and thus were not even permitted to vote.Fortunately we realized as a nation it was bigotry and low expectations were defining the roles of African-Americans and women rather than their true capabilities. We realized, albeit belatedly, America would be a better nation if the true capacities of these citizens were unleashed.Americans with disabilities are now calling upon our fellow citizens to realize the soft bigotry of low expectations is condemning workers with disabilities to near-slave labor, and the system that arises from these low expectations must be abolished.”

There have been 82 congress members support the legislation but it doesn’t seem to have made much movement after being introduced in October of 2011. For a summary of the bill visit Congress.GOV. To see if there are Congress members from your state who support this legislation click on the Co-Sponsors tab. If they are not on the list you must take action by contacting them and encouraging them to support and pass HR 3086.

Some 30,000 disabled persons are employed by 165 Goodwill affiliates in the United States and Canada. Of those affiliates sixty-four have received certificates from the U.S. Department of Labor allowing them to employ workers at less than the minimum wage. Goodwill and other entities that hold special wage certificates must decide whether they truly believe in the essential dignity and equality of those whom they claim to serve.

So where is the good in Goodwill? Your decision to support them or not to support them is your own, but, based on my personal experience I choose not to support them. Click here to read more about Goodwill’s Abuse of Disabled Workers.