Goodwill Industries criticized for workshop wages

The National Federation of the Blind is criticizing Goodwill Industries for wages paid at a sheltered workshop in Columbia.

The federation is calling for a boycott until the workers' wages are increased and the salary of Goodwill's national president is reduced. About 10 people protested outside the Goodwill store on Saturday.

The workshop hires people with severe disabilities. Critics say the employees often make far less than a dollar an hour.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports the workshops are exempt from federal minimum wage laws and usually pay employees based on productivity.

Goodwill officials say if the organization was forced to pay the minimum wage, it likely would have to close the sheltered workshops. That would cause employees to lose their income and medical help from the government.