Letter: Paying disabled people lower wages is wrong
To the Editor:
Why does our country have a minimum wage law? Why shouldn’t employers be able to pay their workers at any rate the market will permit? The argument is that in a civilized society one citizen shouldn’t be able to compensate another citizen’s labor for anything less than a specified amount. Anything less than the minimum is less than humane.
Most people probably think that this law applies to all Americans. In fact, it does not. There is one group of Americans who are exempted. Those citizens are Americans with disabilities.
Section 14C of the Fair Labor Standards Act has since 1938 permitted entities employing the disabled to apply for an exemption to the minimum wage law. A Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request has revealed that some disabled workers are receiving as little as 22 cents per hour. This is shameful and immoral.
One of those entities taking advantage of the minimum wage exemption certificates is one of the country’s largest charities, Goodwill Industries. This past Saturday, the National Federation of the Blind staged informational protests outside over 80 Goodwill Thrift Stores across the country, calling for a boycott. One of those protests took place right here in Cloquet.
Last October a bill was introduced in Congress to phase out and eliminate Section 14C of the FLSA. It is House Bill 3086. Please, urge Congressman Chip Cravaack to support this legislation. It is time we stop treating disabled Americans as second-class citizens!
Richard Wilkinson, Cloquet
Editor’s Note: Richard Wilkinson and Dick Wisneski protested outside the Cloquet Goodwill store Saturday, Aug. 25.