alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

$2.75 an Hour?! The Shocking Secret of Goodwill

Spreading Christmas 'goodwill’ during the holidays is what Goodwill donation centers claim to be all about. The company sells thousands of donated goods at low prices every year, particuarly around the festive seaon.


In fact, it has almost become part of our culture that when something is not useful to us anymore, we give it to Goodwill.

While part of Goodwill’s mission is also to give people jobs who have disabilities, a recent documentary reveals that the company is exploiting their workers with many legally exempt from minimum wage protection, Upworthy reported.

According to the documentary, in the back rooms of Goodwill stores, disabled workers make far less then the federal wage of $7.25 an hour because of loophole in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Former Goodwill employee, Sheila Leland, who is legally blind, said she had to quit her job at a local Goodwill after her employer reduced her hourly wage from $3.50 to $2.75 per hour.

Such actions perfectly legal, based on the law's assumption that people with disabilities are not as productive as able-bodied individuals.

But advocates such as Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, says such laws are unfair and unethical.

“The sheltered workshop system takes people and systemically tells them they are not as good as the rest of the workforce,” he said.

What's more, there is a huge disparity between what workers are paid and the salaries of their bosses. According to the report, half a dozen of Goodwill CEOs make over $400,000 a year, with Goodwill grossing $5 billion a year.

Such figures have outraged disability activists such as Ari Ne’eman of the  Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), who says that the company obviously has enough money to pay employees a fair, minimum wage.

“It is exploitation. They are able to collect charitable donations and present themselves as doing good work but don't have to do right by their workers,” he said.

Watch the video:

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close