Buffalo (WIVB) – It’s a double edged sword. On one side protesters are fighting for equal rights, on the other side Goodwill of Western New York says couldn’t afford to keep workers with developmental disabilities if they were paid a minimum wage.
Protesters from the organization ADAPT are fighting against the subminimum wages goodwill pays some of its developmentally disabled workers.
Jensen Caraball works with ADAPT and agrees pay is unfair.
“We feel that we are being discriminated against we are not being respected. Everyone else is being paid min wage we are being paid less,” says Caraball.
Stephanie Woodward is in a wheelchair and is fighting for ADAPT.
“All we are asking is that Goodwill that claims to support people with disabilities give up their 14 C certificate so they pay people with disabilities at least minimum wage.”
Established in the 1930’s the section under the Fair labor Standards act 14 (C) says “Persons with various physical or mental disabilities (or persons who have vision impairment or are blind) can be employed at rates below the otherwise applicable federal minimum wage.”
At the Goodwill here in Buffalo workers earn whatever they can produce. Thomas Lynch, President of Goodwill Industries here in Buffalo says their “Sheltered Workshop” is a training program.
“Goodwill is in the business of helping people get employment; we look at it as a training program. And by the way they make a few dollars on the side,” says Lynch.
Without their 14 (C) certificate Lynch says his company wouldn’t be able to survive.
“I that businesses would be less likely to hire people who are not yet fully functional because it would cost them twice as much to make their product and they won’t be able to sell it,” says Lynch.
Right now there’s a nationwide movement by The National Disability Rights Network to have the federal government repeal 14 (C). A worker at the Goodwill’s sheltered workshop showed WIVB his paycheck, he does make minimum wage for his work.