Goodwill® is a nonprofit organization that exists for one purpose: to eliminate barriers to opportunity and help people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work. For more than a century, Goodwill has worked in communities to help people with disabilities, disadvantages and anyone facing challenges to finding employment including youth, seniors, veterans, immigrants, and people with other specialized needs totaling 6.7 million people last year. Every 33 seconds of every business day, someone gets a job with Goodwill’s help. That is our mission which our business model helps us achieve. Collectively 82 percent of the revenue generated through our stores, e-commerce sites, and contracts go right into our mission.
Questions have been raised in the media recently about one of the many tools that some Goodwill agencies use to help people with significant and multiple disabilities: the Special Minimum Wage Certificate, authorized under the Fair Labor Standards Act Section 14(c). The Certificate is not a “loophole.” The Certificates are issued by the U.S. Department of Labor as an intentional policy specifically designed to create vocational opportunities for people with disabilities who otherwise would not have them. Certificate holders are required by law to determine the wages by a time study; otherwise, they would fail to remain authorized certificate holders. The certificate is one of the many tools a Goodwill agency might use in assisting an individual with disabilities gain skills and be a part of a workforce after assessing his/her capabilities, abilities, wants and desires. That is informed choice.
While Goodwill supports reforms to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities, eliminating this program would harm – not help – people with significant and multiple disabilities. The reality is this program allows employers to focus on what a person with a significant disability can do, not on what they can’t. Every Goodwill program participant – and the families that support them – should have the chance to work. That is our mission and our commitment.
-Brad Turner-Little, director of mission strategy