On Boycotting Goodwill

Imagine working thirteen hours for under three dollars.  No, we’re not going back in time.  We’re just looking in on the world right now, in America, in 2013.  

I’ve just watched this video on UpWorthy:




If you’re a bit lazy (like I usually am) here is the summary: NBC News recently released a segment revealing the ugly truths about a company I’ve always loved: Goodwill.  The ugly truth is that in some places on this beautiful Earth, Goodwill is paying its disabled employees as little as twenty-two cents an hour.  (Worse, because of an unhighlighted loophole in the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, it’s absolutely legal.)  


Now, I want you to know boycotting Goodwill wasn’t an easy decision.  Half of my closet is from Goodwill, and the other half is from high school and I don’t want to talk about it.  In a world where a J.Crew sweater costs half of my weekly paycheck (also about half of my monthly rent), Goodwill has always offered me a chance to wear the things I would never normally be able to afford.  And call me vapid, but a nice pair of shoes can be the difference between being in a crummy mood and feeling like your life is crummy.


I can’t tell you how many books I’ve purchased from those slightly smelly donation-based stores, only to read them and donate them back into the system weeks later.  I can’t recount how many thirteen gallon garbage bags I’ve brought down to my local Goodwill.  And I’m not ashamed to say that some of the employees know, at least, my face and that, yes, I’m constantly looking for ugly Christmas sweaters.  It has always been an added bonus that Goodwill is a nonprofit organization–that for every penny I spend, it means that someone else in the world who maybe normally wouldn’t have a job, well, now they have a job.


The standard pullover sweatshirt at your local Connecticut Goodwill costs 2.99$.  If you’re a disabled person working for Goodwill, then you’re welcome I guess.  I just paid your wages for thirteen hours.

Imagine working thirteen hours sorting through people’s old things, attic dust caked on your fingers, basement mold reeking up the back room, standing on your feet, sorting out a story that is constantly being rifled through and torn apart, asking people if they’d like to round their total up to donate more to Goodwill–and all for a paycheck that will total less than three dollars…  

You could buy a double cheeseburger and a quarter pack of Wrigley’s.  Watch out for that tax, though.


In the video, the clearly unfair pay rate is justified by a speed test Goodwill is using to judge the productivity of their employees.  If you’re super-productive, you get more money.  If you have cerebral-palsy, and you fail their speed test, well at least you’ve got that double cheeseburger.


We’ve all worked these sorts of jobs, right?  The jobs where the managers expect you to lift 70 pounds, but you’re 5’1” and you weigh 98 pounds…  The jobs where you feel sick, and your manager writes you up for underperforming.  


Well, Goodwill, it’s fine if you want to be one of those employers.  If you want to find loopholes so you can pay disabled people less money than they would find if they spent that hour collecting cans on the street, that’s fine.  But if you want to masquerade as a nonprofit organization, if you want to collect hundreds of of thousands of dollars in government grants every year and then pull this sort of stunt: well, good luck.  You’ll be doing it without my help.  


And hopefully, dear reader, they’ll be doing it without yours.  Stop shopping at Goodwill, stop donating to their stores, and actively demand they change their ways.  

In truth, there are plenty of other organizations that will help you find a job.  For my Nutmeggers out there, try CTWorks, which was actually how I got my first job.  For anyone else out there, I will literally, personally help you find an alternative to Goodwill, regardless of the service you’re seeking.


By the way, Goodwill CEO Jim Gibbons makes upwards of 1,000,000 dollars a year?  Shame on him.  Didn’t you know: a company is only as successful as its employees, and sooner or later, the media uncovers everything.


3 thoughts on “On Boycotting Goodwill

    • It is true! And I know how you feel. Goodwill is one of my sanctuaries. I can believe injustice in America, but I can’t believe I contributed to it.


  1. Pingback: Do you have any good will about the Goodwill? | PHRUGAL

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