I’ve always been a fan of Goodwill Industries’ employment programs; the nonprofit organization provides employment opportunities to convicted felons that want to make a clean start. Goodwill also hires disabled adults, but after reading a story on Huffington Post that reports Goodwill pays its disabled workers as little as 22 cents per hour, I have to rethink my support of Goodwill.
No, you didn’t read that wrong, I said 22 cents per hour. Even prisoners can earn more per hour than some disabled Goodwill employees earn. That just makes my stomach turn.
According to Huffington Post, “Some Pennsylvania Goodwill workers who are disabled made as little as 22, 38 and 41 cents per hour in 2011, according to Labor Department documents reviewed by NBC News. That’s because a 1938 law, called the Special Wage Certificate Program, aimed at encouraging employers to hire disabled workers, allows charities and companies to get special certificates from the Department of Labor that permits them to pay disabled workers based on their abilities, with no minimum.”
Goodwill Industries isn’t using this loophole so that it can earmark its funds for community programs, though. Jim Gibbons, Goodwill International CEO, earned $729,000 in both salary and deferred compensation in 2011. I understand that CEOs earn more than entry-level store employees. However, the fact that the organization can provide nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in compensation to its CEO while paying pennies per hour to disabled workers makes me sick.
In my opinion, Goodwill is taking advantage of these individuals. I realize that many of these disabled adults may live in assisted living facilities and receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) so they don’t need the money from their jobs to pay the bills but it is disgraceful to say that someone is only worth 22 cents per hour.
Perhaps I’m just over reacting to the situation, though. What do you think about Goodwill’s use of the pay loophole?