15 Evil Things Goodwill Has Done (That Aren't Widely Known)
We know what you’re thinking: Goodwill is a nonprofit organization, right? Isn’t that the diametric opposite of evil? Theoretically, yes, but it turns out Goodwill could have a little more, uh, good will toward the people it employs and serves.
They Pay Terribly
Goodwill is known for paying its employees far less than sorting through your dirty laundry is surely worth. Even managers and specialized workers like job coaches make less than $20 an hour, and for the laundry sorters, it’s far less. But that’s just the nonprofit non-business, right? Well…
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Executives Get Enormous Salaries
While their workers toil for little more than ramen and cardboard box money, Goodwill executives routinely earn salaries in the mid six figures. After one CEO was fired precisely because of his outrageous compensation package, which included a country club membership, he still managed to negotiate a $600,000 severance.
It’s Even Worse For Disabled Workers
Goodwill is famous for employing disabled workers, but it’s not out of the goodness of their hearts. They rely on laws passed nearly 100 years ago that literally deem disabled workers less valuable to pay them far less than minimum wage. Exactly how much less? As little as 22 cents per hour.
They Evaluate Disabled Workers More Often Than CEOs
In order to meet those laws that allow them to underpay disabled workers, Goodwill must evaluate the productivity of those workers at least every six months and often more frequently, which the Huffington Post points out is perhaps a liiiiittle inefficient, considering they evaluate CEOs only once a year.
Their Wages Depend on Meeting Impossible Standards
According to one 2013 report, disabled employees working the Goodwill floor must complete a test to determine their hourly wage which requires them to sort 100 items of clothing into the correct section, under the correct size, facing the right way, and with the top buttons done in under 32 minutes. That would be hard for anyone, but especially, say, blind employees.
Working at Goodwill Can Be Deadly
Multiple workers, some of them disabled, have been killed in industrial accidents that employees and officials say could have been prevented with proper training and safety measures. One employee said their forklift class, which lasted only half an hour, was impossible to fail, and another complained about unsafe conditions for six months ahead of a fatal accident. Instead of being commended, he was fired.
They Intimidate and Fire Whistleblowers
David Goudie, the man who identified the unsafe conditions that ended up killing a coworker, wasn’t the only one fired from Goodwill for trying to warn it of its own problems. A North Carolina woman was fired for complaining about a manager calling black employees “you people” and “too loud,” an Oklahoma woman was fired for testifying on behalf of a coworker in a discrimination lawsuit, and a Minnesota HR manager was fired for investigating reports that the director of donated goods was directing those donated goods right back into their own pockets.
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They Discriminate Against Employees
As you can probably tell at this point, Goodwill has lost or settled lawsuits for just about every type of discrimination, from sex to race to disability. Yes, discrimination against the very people they claim to help most.
They Sure Don’t Want the Minimum Wage Raised
Regional Goodwill officials in California announced that they would have to cut 100 “job training positions” if a local measure to raise the minimum wage passed (then walked it back to claim that they were “neutral” on the measure), and one of those six-figure CEOs of an Illinois branch flat-out told disabled workers they were getting fired after a minimum wage hike before again walking it back after people started looking for their pitchforks.
They Use the Law to Defeat Competition
In 2013, Goodwill pushed for legislation in California that would make it easier for property owners to get rid of clothing donation bins they’d previously agreed to host. Why on Earth would they do that? Well, Goodwill isn’t the only thrift game in town, and the littler guys who don’t have a store every 10 blocks rely on those bins. According to the opposition, it was nothing more than an attempt to “corner the clothing donation market and make more money.”
They Ship Unwanted Stuff Overseas (Which Hurts Local Economies)
No one wants your old, stained man panties, so it’s no surprise that a lot of donations end up recycled or, unfortunately, in a landfill, but about half of the clothing donated to Goodwill actually gets shipped overseas, including to developing countries, whose residents say the practice undermines their own textile industries. Goodwill gets $50 million a year for it, though, so screw those guys, apparently.
They Dump E-Waste Overseas, Too
In 2020, Goodwill was also caught exporting hazardous e-waste to developing countries, “likely” illegally. They’re just getting all of our disgusting cast-offs.
They Fought Closure During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Goodwill employees in Oregon begged management to close the store in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, considering the purveyance of cheap sweaters a pretty nonessential operation, but they refused. Apparently, people needed their Dollar Days more than ever. An Oklahoma store who did have to close sued their insurance company for failing to reimburse them for lost profits and totally lost.
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Their Stuff is Gross
Thrift shops are notorious for not washing their merchandise, but Goodwill employees have said that some stores use a spray deodorizer to lull your nose into a false sense of security that leaves you wearing a dead skin suit. Always, always wash that shit.
They Might Not Even Give That Much to Charity
On a national level, Goodwill uses almost 90% of its money on its charitable programs in relation to the amount it spends on overhead, but at least one regional branch was found to be funding its programs primarily through grants. The funding that did come from retail sales only amounted to about half of its CEO’s salary. Oh, hey, it’s the country club guy! Man, who knew Omaha was so corrupt?
Top image: Becca McHaffie/Unsplash