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Thread: Disabled workers paid just pennies an hour – and it's legal

  1. #1
    Senior Member brucec's Avatar
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    Disabled workers paid just pennies an hour – and it's legal

    By Anna Schecter, Producer, NBC News


    One of the nation's best-known charities is paying disabled workers as little as 22 cents an hour, thanks to a 75-year-old legal loophole that critics say needs to be closed.

    Goodwill Industries, a multibillion-dollar company whose executives make six-figure salaries, is among the nonprofit groups permitted to pay thousands of disabled workers far less than minimum wage because of a federal law known as Section 14 (c). Labor Department records show that some Goodwill workers in Pennsylvania earned wages as low as 22, 38 and 41 cents per hour in 2011.
    "If they really do pay the CEO of Goodwill three-quarters of a million dollars, they certainly can pay me more than they're paying," said Harold Leigland, who is legally blind and hangs clothes at a Goodwill in Great Falls, Montana for less than minimum wage.

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    Senior Member Scorpion's Avatar
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    Oh, man, this needs to be changed. They should be making minimum wage at least!

  3. #3
    It is double edged, stinks to high heaven. Goodwill will avoid handicap if they have to pay minimum wage. They will hire AB. I worked at Goodwill as an AB in college for minimum wage because as they said, they needed to "catch up".
    I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

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    AND if that isn't enough....

    Look at these salaries?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-h...b_1876905.html

    I think this should be illegal. I also remember reading about some embezzling by some of the executives a while back but I can't find it again.
    T12-L2; Burst fracture L1: Incomplete walking with AFO's and cane since 1989

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  5. #5
    If these people were to be paid minimum wage, wouldn't they lose their benefits? They might not get paid much, but they wouldn't be hired otherwise and it gives them a reason to get out of the house.

    Not sure how it works in the States, but I volunteer for 4 different organizations because if I were to accept a paid position, I'd lose my income replacement income, which is much better than minimum wage. I get paid in platitudes and alcohol.

    Reddit thread

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    Senior Member Scorpion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christopher View Post
    If these people were to be paid minimum wage, wouldn't they lose their benefits? They might not get paid much, but they wouldn't be hired otherwise and it gives them a reason to get out of the house.

    Not sure how it works in the States, but I volunteer for 4 different organizations because if I were to accept a paid position, I'd lose my income replacement income, which is much better than minimum wage.
    You volunteering really has nothing to do with allowing an organization to pay slave wages. It can't be excused by saying "hey, at least the mental cripples are getting out of the house".

    Seriously, though, if it's a matter of benefits, they can work fewer hours but still get minimum wage (at least) for the hours worked. McDonalds often hires people who are mentally disabled to clean tables and stuff, but they pay them at least minimum wage. You can't use your volunteering (or anyone else's) as an excuse for not having minimum wage laws in place, even for non-profits. Besides, your Canadian "income replacement income" is not even comparable to the paltry sum available to these people in the States.

  7. #7
    Would they still be employable at minimum wage though? No one likes to see CEOs of non-profits making money of the backs of others, but that's everywhere. It's not like Goodwill does nothing for the communities they serve?

    Heh. Income replacement INDEMNITY. Oops. Didn't realize how stupid that sounded.

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    Senior Member Scorpion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christopher View Post
    Would they still be employable at minimum wage though?
    Yes, why not? I gave you the McDonalds example. Even if they couldn't, it's absurd to excuse slave wages because someone might not be able to get a job otherwise. That's called exploitation. One of Goodwill's community services is helping the mentally disabled, so exploiting them by paying slave wages helps how? And don't say it gets them out of the house!

    I'm not opposed to non-profit CEOs being compensated well, by the way, so long as that non-profit is bringing money and solutions to a certain problem.

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    Senior Member NikkiMaya's Avatar
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    I agree Scorpion. I just saw a long segment about this on NBC's Rock Center. It is not just people who have an intellectual disability working there. The program interviewed a blind couple at length. And Goodwill got some shill (who also happens to be blind--turncoat!) to argue that all the disabled employees should be happy to get out of the house, enjoying sheltered workshops. The interviewer pushed back to ask why Goodwill can't pay minimum wage when they can pay their executives up to $1.1 million per year, and the guy did not have an answer.

    Goodwill Industries International earns $4.4 Billion in revenue every year. They put a substantial amount of that back into programs/services for people in need, but also high salaries for their executives. If they have such an altruistic attitude, I am wondering where the disconnect happened. I sure hope they are ashamed by this coverage and change course to offer minimum wage.
    In our world constituted of differences of all kinds, it is not the disabled, but society at large that needs special education...to become a genuine society for all. -Frederic Major, Former UNESCO Director General

  10. #10
    If the Goodwill is certified as a sheltered workshop then each time a new job is acquired an AB worker is timed to determine the production standard. If the disabled worker using exactly the same equipment, work station, etc. produces 80% of the AB level production standard then the disabled worker can be paid at a rate of 80% of the prevailing, industrial wage for that kind of work. During regular intervals the disabled worker should be retimed to determine if his/her production level has gone up as a result of experience.

    This is how this system should work ideally but in the real world it is often abused. People are often paid based on a percentage of minimum wage rather than a percentage of the prevailing, industrial wage. In many cases the disabled worker is not given the correct equipment or the workstation is not setup as efficiently as it was when the AB set the standard. People are often never retimed to see if their production speed has actually increased.

    In the defense of outfits like Goodwill they sometimes serve very severely impaired people who might otherwise be sitting in a group home all day doing nothing or watching TV or sitting with aging parents. Instead, they are often picked up daily by a transportation service, brought to work where they are friends with supervisors and coworkers. Often their self-esteem is enhanced by their status as workers.

    Once a disabled worker is able to earn close to the production standard and shown the ability to deal with coworkers and staff in an appropriate manner, then that person should be outplaced into regular employment for maximum social integration. In some cases where transportation just cannot be arranged or where/when outside employment opportunities are nearly non-existent, the disabled person may opt to stay in the sheltered situation. People whose skills are this good however should be moved from sheltered status to regular employees at the facility.

    Unfortunately, this system is often abused, people who should be outplaced are retained forever, their improved production skills are never recognized, etc. These facilities are supposed to be inspected closely by the Committee on Accreditation of Rehab Facilities (CARF) every few years. CARF is tasked with examining all work records and observing production practices to assure that the appropriate standards are followed. Without continued accreditation the facility can no longer receive state or federal funds or operate as a sheltered workshop.

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