For Goodwill’s Disabled Workers, Spotlight Is on Subminimum Wage
ASAN and NFB want changes to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that allows select employers, including Goodwill, to pay people with disabilities at wage rates far below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The groups have documented cases of individual workers with disabilities at Goodwill receiving the minimum of 22 cents an hour, Ne’eman says, and ASAN believes that such pay levels are unfair and abusive.
Efforts in Washington, DC, to change the law are currently stalled, reports Ne’eman, and “we are unlikely to see any progress in this Congress,” which continues through the end of 2014. “There doesn’t seem to be any appetite on the part of the traditional supporters [of rights for the disabled] to go after FLSA at this time,” he says. “But we are intent on keeping up the pressure and making advances where we can.”
Working In These Times reported last year on the NFB consumer boycott of Goodwill that intended to draw attention to Goodwill’s labor practices and the campaign to change the law. At that time, NFB said Goodwill was a boycott target not only because it paid some workers inadequately, but because it lobbied Congress heavily to keep the subminimum wage law in place.