Utah group delivers petition demanding equal wages for the blind
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In Utah on Thursday morning, a group of people delivered a change.org petition with 170,000 signatures demanding equal pay to the Goodwill Industries International in Millcreek.

The National Federation of the Blind targeted the group nationally because it pays people with disabilities less because of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to a release from the federation.

"Our benevolent superiors (self-appointed, self-governing, self-important, self-willed) have determined that a wage structure in our country that offers to pay us less than the federally guaranteed minimum wage available to everybody else has been established for our own good. ... They tell us that our lives have been improved through this system of government-authorized discrimination, while they collect their six- and seven-figure compensation packages," said Marc Maurer, federation president, in a 2013 National Federation for the Blind National Convention speech.

However, neither of the two Goodwill Industries locations in Utah use the waiver, said Chelle Feist, community relations specialist for Easter Seals Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain Region. She also says employees who do sign up for such waivers usually have multiple disabilities and choose to use the waiver instead of apply for a job in the community.

"It's a tool to help people, and it's a choice people have," Feist said.

Goodwill is one of 3,400 agencies nationwide that use the waiver, and only about 7,500 of 113,000 Goodwill employees are paid through the waiver, which is roughly 6.5 percent of their workforce. Employees on the waiver are paid an average of $7.47 nationally, Feist said.

smcfarland@sltrib.com

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