by Rose Sloan
From the Editor: We frequently find that people are surprised to learn that it is legal to pay blind people less than the minimum wage as we work to change this immoral and discriminatory practice. They are also surprised to learn that Goodwill, a not-for-profit they have trusted with many of their charitable gifts, takes advantage of this exemption and pays many of their workers below the federally guaranteed minimum. Interestingly, of the 165 Goodwill facilities that hire the disabled, 101 pay at least the minimum wage. The question we repeatedly ask is why sixty-four Goodwill workshops do not. We urge the facilities that are using the outdated practice of paying sub-minimum wages to follow the lead of Goodwill NNE as it strives to meet the needs of its disabled workers, while ensuring that each receives a fair wage. Here is its statement:
While we are a proud member of Goodwill Industries International, we make completely localized decisions, including the way Goodwill of Northern New England compensates all employees. Since 1996 it has been our policy and practice to always meet or exceed the minimum wage for our over 1,700 employees of all abilities in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
At Goodwill Industries of Northern New England (Goodwill NNE), our integrity revolves around how closely we adhere to our fundamental belief in the value of every human being and the ‘place’ where we live—the environment and the economy that brings structure to our communities.
As affirmed by Goodwill NNE’s Board of Directors in 2013, it is our policy and practice to always meet or exceed minimum wage for all our employees in Maine, New Hampshire, and northern Vermont. As we connect people who face diverse challenges to jobs in the marketplace, we ensure that they, too, are paid competitive wages, never less than the established minimum wage.
This practice is core to our principles–and is essential to the well-being of our employees and the communities where we all live.
We know that this is a local issue. Community-based organizations, including other Goodwills, practice based on their experiences and leadership. In 1996 Goodwill NNE ceased sub-minimum wage compensation within its employment opportunities.
This resolution formally affirms that Goodwill NNE supports public policy initiatives that align with our commitment to always meet or exceed minimum wage for all workers in our region.