Controversy over pay for Goodwill employees

Yova Gavino

Photo: Video by tmj4.com

Controversy over pay for Goodwill employees

CREATED Jun. 25, 2013

MILWAUKEE - People of all disability levels work at Goodwill.

However, some question whether they're being paid a fair wage.

An NBC News investigation showed some workers make just pennies an hour, while several CEO’s make six figures.

“The pay was crummy,” explains former employee Lynn Carus. “I didn't like it."

Carus worked at Goodwill for 12 years. She made $7.20 an hour, but says it wasn't enough to support herself, so she moved on.

The NBC News investigation found that workers in Pennsylvania made just pennies an hour.

It's all legal, because of a federal law passed in 1938.

TODAY'S TMJ4's Yona Gavino went to go check out a Goodwill near 91st and Mill Road.

Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Goodwill officials told me program participants make $4.50 an hour.

That's the average, they said, but some get paid higher and others lower than that.

"It's legal to do that,” explains advocacy specialist Cathy Steffke. “But I would say it's unfair and unethical, especially when the executives are making so much money."

Goodwill tells me the CEO in charge of Milwaukee and Chicago makes $320,000 dollars a year.

"I think the point that's being missed is this is not just about a work opportunity,” counters Pat Boelter, Chief Marketing Officer at Goodwill.

“This is a program that we provide. It's a safe haven."

Yona ran into Don Richards, a former Milwaukee Alderman at Goodwill. He was shocked that participants make so little.

"I want to continue to support Goodwill and I don't want to have to explain it to my conscience everytime I do," expressed Richards.

“I'm not surprised it happens in the community because this is what happens in many communities. But I very much wish this would stop."

So does this former employee.

“People have to live, they have to," says Carus.

NBC News reports the Goodwill CEO in L.A. made more than a million dollars in salary and deferred compensation, and that Goodwill grosses nearly five billion dollars a year.

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