Now is the time to listen to NFB First Vice President Fred Schroeder and others who are pointing out and calling for the end of the unjust practice of paying human beings as little as 14 cents per hour worked. Even one cent less than the minimum wage is wrongly taking advantage of a worker.
The list of companies who pay subminimum wages is long and distinguished. A list may be downloaded from DOL. There is no reason that a company shouldn’t make money and pay their people well. Goodwill industries execs all earn over $100,000 a year and that would be fine if they paid their employees at least minimum wage. They are an easy target, but the problem lies with Section 14c of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which was written in 1938, not with Goodwill.
When a worker who earns 20 cents an hour for hanging 20 shirts on hangers each hour, goes to buy a $5 hamburger they are spending 63% of their weekly wage, provided they were allowed to work 5 days 8 hours a day. That is the same as charging a worker who earns $50,000 per year (the median income as of 2013) $605.76 for a hamburger. The point is that the workers who are exploited by companies who pay subminimum wages don’t get any price breaks when they go to the store and any governmental subsidies do little to mitigate this problem.
When the minimum wage is adjusted, it is done so based on a number of factors around the cost of living and not how many pieces of clothing a worker can hang on hangers in an hour. A person’s time is worth at least that much per hour spent doing his or her job. The important point is that all people who work for an hour should be guaranteed that hour of work will be compensated at the standard minimum hourly wage guaranteed by law. If a company wants to incentivize the workers to be more productive, they should offer a bonus or commission for productivity over minimum expectations. However, the hourly wage should never drop below the minimum established by law. There is no humanely justifiable reason to penalize workers by decreasing their wages based on their productivity, especially when the productivity is influenced by a disability.
We need to all pull together to abolish 14c and the practice of paying subminimum wages.