Baltimore, Maryland (June 11, 2012): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) today respondedto a statement issued by Goodwill Industries International, Inc., regarding its payment of subminimum wages to workers with disabilities.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Goodwill frames its opposition to fair wages for workers with disabilities in terms of choice. Goodwill wants the public—and in particular its own employees with disabilities—to believe that the only choice that Americans with disabilities have is between receiving subminimum wages or receiving no wages at all. This is a false choice based on inaccurate and self-serving propaganda put out by Goodwill and other subminimum-wage exploiters. The reality is that workers with disabilities are not limited to the false choice presented by the industry that exploits them. Workers with even the most severe disabilities can and do engage in competitive employment every day. The way to lower the high unemployment rate among workers with disabilities is to enhance and expand existing programs—and to create new ones—that help them to find and maintain competitive employment, not to exploit them in subminimum-wage sweatshops. These sweatshops proclaim by their policies and behavior to the public, to other employers, and to the employees themselves that the workers aren’t good enough to be regular employees earning real wages in regular business. Disabled Americans reject this false and misleading representation.”
Goodwill issued its statement in response to an inquiry from WUSA, the CBS television affiliate in Washington, D.C. WUSA made the inquiry in its report on the NFB’s call for a boycott of Goodwill Industries, which was issued last week after repeated attempts to meet with Goodwill officials. NFB representatives were interviewed on camera and, along with the WUSA reporter, sought to speak with Goodwill’s president and chief executive officer, but Goodwill declined a meeting or to be interviewed on camera.