Change.org’s petition to stop Goodwill Industries from exploiting its employees with disabilities with an 80-year-old law for subminimum wages has gone viral with over 220,000 signatures.
Outed by the petition and an NBC expose five years ago that reported workers’ wages being as little as $0.58 an hour, the $3 billion nonprofit’s company-wide practices have yet to change. Current company reviews on “Greedwill” also reveal their below minimum wage injustices.
Exceeding $400,000 (and in one case up to $1.3M) in individual salary for 23 regional CEOs, according to Omaha World Herald, Goodwill clearly could afford to do better for their employees. The bad publicity and hypocrisy is tearing the company apart.
Regional CEOs have been dropping like flies since 2013 (Omaha, Nevada, Southeastern Pennsylvania, and Western Missouri/Eastern Kansas, to name a few), and as of April of this year, international CEO Jim Gibbons, a man with a disability himself who earned almost $730,000, has left the company “to pursue other options.”
Over 200,000 workers with disabilities in the U.S. are still paid subminimum wage. “Disability went from a medical issue which makes it seem as something to be cured before full equality to a civil rights issue,” says Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability.
Change.org’s petition (started by the National Federation of the Blind and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network) is increasing momentum behind changing the law.
The Fair Labor Standards Act currently allows employers, via 14c certificates, to pay those with disabilities rates below federal minimum wage. A push is underway for certificates to be eliminated and a competitive integrative model and community resources to be part of the replacement initiative. Incentives for businesses are also being considered by legislators as a way to break the outdated business practices.
The Southeastern PA branch of Goodwill, whose CEO was fired, has reportedly transitioned its business model to impact the employees of their thrift stores with fairer practices. So perhaps the next appointed international CEO can mandate the regions of the company to do it.