[Nfbmo] Goodwill Article in Columbia Paper

Gene Coulter escoulter at centurytel.net
Tue Aug 28 16:45:55 UTC 2012

>From the Columbia Tribune:

Wages at Goodwill draw protesters to local store Don Shrubshell | Buy this 
photo Members of the Columbia chapter of the National Federation of the 
Blind, Carol Coulter, left, and her husband, Eugene, and grandson Cyrus, 7, 
held signs while walking in front of the Goodwill Store at 1405 Grindstone 
Parkway Saturday to protest wages they say are being paid to some Goodwill 
employees with disabilities. By Rudi Keller Columbia Daily Tribune Sunday, 
August 26, 2012 The National Federation of the Blind is taking on Goodwill 
Industries over policies at sheltered workshops that pay disabled workers a 
fraction of the minimum wage. Ten protesters picketed outside the Goodwill 
retail store on Grindstone Parkway yesterday, calling for a boycott until 
wages are increased and the salary of the national president is reduced. 
We're not knocking Goodwill's philosophy or goals," said Eugene Coulter, 
president of the Columbia chapter of the federation. We are saying they can 
still meet their goals and pay the minimum wage. A sheltered workshop is an 
employer that hires people with severe disabilities. In Missouri, most are 
tax supported through local property tax levies. In Columbia, the local 
sheltered workshop is known as Central Missouri Contracting Enterprises and 
is not part of Goodwill Industries. The workshops are exempt from federal 
minimum wage laws and usually set pay rates for individual workers based on 
productivity. The federation hopes to change that. Goodwill operates only 
one sheltered workshop in Missouri and that is the only place Goodwill 
employees are paid less than minimum wage, said Dave Kutchback, chief of 
staff for the MERS/Missouri Goodwill Industries. All of the employees in its 
retail stores are paid at least $8.25 an hour with an opportunity for 
bonuses, he said. If it was forced to pay minimum wage currently $7.25 an 
hour in the sheltered workshops, those operations would go out of business, 
Kutchback said. And for some of its clients, an increase in pay could result 
in a devastating loss of income and medical support from the government, he 
added. Disabled individuals on Supplemental Security Income can earn $85 a 
month before their benefits are reduced. If they lose their benefits, they 
also lose automatic eligibility for Medicaid, which pays premiums and 
copayments for Medicare. Those receiving Social Security disability can earn 
$500 a month for nine months before their benefits are cut off, and with a 
cut off of benefits, they would lose Medicare, Kutchback said. And 
MERS/Goodwill provides case management and other support services that 
clients no longer would able to obtain if their incomes rose to the $1,160 a 
month for full-time minimum wage employment. I would say it is misguided and 
misinformed," Kutchback said of the protest. Coulter, however, said the 
minimum wage exemption allows Goodwill to pay some employees as little as 22 
cents an hour, while James Gibbons, president of Goodwill Industries 
International, was paid $522,000 in 2010. Paying six-figure CEO salaries 
while paying disabled workers pennies is IMMORAL! a flier distributed to 
Goodwill customers stated. Of 160 sheltered workshops operated by Goodwill 
nationwide, 64 pay less than the minimum wage, Coulter said. We are saying 
that 95 percent of the people who entered sheltered workshop employment are 
productive and deserve a living wage," he said, "and certainly something 
better than being paid $8.80 a week. Reach Rudi Keller at 573-815-1709 or 
e-mail rkeller at columbiatribune.com . Copyright 2012 Columbia Tribune. All 
rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or 
redistributed. This article was published on page A12 of the Sunday, August 
26, 2012 edition of The Columbia Daily Tribune 

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