TheÂ Wichita / Hutchinson Labor Federation believes that all workers deserve fair wages and equal treatment under the law. Workers with disabilities are no exception. We encourage all working families to stand with theÂ National Federation of the Blind of Kansas to protest the Goodwill and their practiceÂ of denying disabled workshop employees minimum wage. Read NFIB-KS’s statement below and please help raise awareness of this important issues. You can learn more about the national campaign here.
Wichita, KS (August 22, 2012): The National Federation of the Blind of Kansas will host an informational protest in front of the Goodwill store located at 5525 West Central in Wichita, Kansas. The event will take place on Saturday, August 25th from 11 am to 1 pm. The goal of the protest is to raise public awareness on the practice of denying disabled workshop employees minimum wage. The Goodwill Industries location was selected as Goodwill of Kansas is one of 64 entities out of a total of 165 (39 percent) nationwide that do not guarantee disabled employees minimum wage.
To gain a deeper understanding of the local situation, representatives of the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas met with Goodwill Vice President Gayle Goetz the morning of August 22nd to tour the facility and discuss the subminimum wage issue. “We will have to agree to disagree,” said Goetz about paying all their disabled workers minimum wage. She continued, “That just wouldn?t be fair.” According to Goetz, the Goodwill Board of Directors is “not inclined to consider changes at this time.” Goetz was unable to provide any wage data for disabled workers, and was unsure who within the organization would have the information. Limited wage information, available publicly in Goodwill’s 2011 tax filing, show that the top two executives at Goodwill Industries of Kansas were compensated in excess of $260,000 during that tax year. Concerned with Goodwill’s reluctance to disclose the truth, the National Federation of the Blind ofÂ Kansas is filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the actual effective hourly wages paid in this workshop.The National Federation of the Blind of Kansas has found that Goodwill of Kansas is not alone in pursuing these unfair, discriminatory, and immoral labor practices. Their investigations have determined that at least three other subminimum wage workshops for the disabled exist in Wichita. This includes Envision Incorporated, where the three top executives were compensated in excess of $1 million, according to the Envision Foundation 2011 Tax Return. At the same time their lowest paid employees, according to our sources, are earning less than $.75 per hour.
“My initial contact with Mary Shannon, President of the Envision Foundation, was not encouraging,” says Tom Page, First Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas. “She denied that the subminimum wage workers are considered employees under the law.”
None of the workshops contacted by the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas would disclose any information regarding wages in the subminimum workshops. They are filing requests under the Freedom of Information Act for the other workshops and will release their findings when complete.