DAWWN rallies at Goodwill for Fair Wages

DAWWN Members and their allies, at the tail end of the rally, listen to a Goodwill Executive respond to concerns
On July 26, the 23rd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, members of Disabled Americans Want Work Now (DAWWN) staged a rally at the Chicago Offices of Goodwill Industries. Last year, the National Federation for the Blind issued a nation-wide boycott of Goodwill Industries because many of the thrift stores pay workers with disabilities sub-minimum wage. DAWWN took that message to the Chicago offices, sending a signal that all Goodwill stores nationwide must eliminate the 14c certificate.

Under the Fair Wages Standards Act, 14(c) allows employers to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages. Speaking about the rally, Susan Aarup, co-chair of DAWWN, said “Goodwill Industries is one of the largest and most lucrative charitable organizations in the country, yet it pays some workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage. We feel that it’s discriminatory and contrary to the promise of equal rights under the ADA.” Though a store spokesperson at Racine and Washington indicated that it doesn’t use the 14c Certificate, until all Goodwill stores eliminate the unfair wage policy, every store will be subject to the boycott.

Subminimum wage is part of broader employment issues for people with disabilities. The unemployment rate of people with disabilities is higher than that of any other minority population. Two thirds of unemployed people with disabilities are able to work
and want to work. But rather than train for jobs and secure jobs, people with disabilities are often trapped in subminimum wage positions.“Society has underestimated the employment capacity of people with disabilities for too long,” said Michael Grice of DAWWN. “With the proper training and support, people with disabilities, no matter how severe their disability can be competitively employed.”

DAWWN and NFB both support the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act (H.R. 3086), which would phase out and then repeal the provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act that permits subminimum pay to workers with disabilities.