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Goodwill Industries Criticized for Workshop Wages

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Described as a new shopping experience for St. Louis residents, the Goodwill Outlet Store at 3728 Market Street (the old Famous Barr building off Vandeventer) opens its doors at 9 am Thursday, May 5.  Huge bins filled with unsold items from the two dozen or so Goodwill stores throughout the region will be on display, and will be swapped out with bins filled with different products every 20 minutes.  "The Outlet Store is a concept that has been successful in other Goodwill markets," said Mark Kahrs, Senior Vice President of Retail for MERS/Goodwill, "and this is the first of its kind in the bi-state area."  This will be the largest Goodwill Outlet store in the country, with more than 20,000 square feet of retail space. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

Described as a new shopping experience for St. Louis residents, the Goodwill Outlet Store at 3728 Market Street (the old Famous Barr building off Vandeventer) opens its doors at 9 am Thursday, May 5. Huge bins filled with unsold items from the two dozen or so Goodwill stores throughout the region will be on display, and will be swapped out with bins filled with different products every 20 minutes. “The Outlet Store is a concept that has been successful in other Goodwill markets,” said Mark Kahrs, Senior Vice President of Retail for MERS/Goodwill, “and this is the first of its kind in the bi-state area.” This will be the largest Goodwill Outlet store in the country, with more than 20,000 square feet of retail space. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The National Federation of the Blind is criticizing Goodwill Industries for wages paid at its sheltered workshops around the country.

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 a Goodwill retail store on Saturday.

The workshops hire 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 is forced to pay the minimum wage, the sheltered workshops likely would close. The said that would cause employees to lose their income and medical service from the government.

© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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