Springfield-based Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries Inc. finds itself in a pile of bad publicity after the agency’s $165,000-a-year CEO told disabled workers that they no longer would have a job because of a state minimum-wage increase. The wage hike hasn’t gone into effect, however, and the Department of Labor permits Goodwill to pay the disabled workers below minimum wage. The board of directors of the agency, which has local retail stores, has a lot of work to do quickly.
The annual report of Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries Inc. says that its mission is to provide life-skills training, employment training, job supervisions and “a lot of love and caring” to the people with intellectual disabilities that it serves. But the agency’s CEO, Sharon Durbin, appears to have a different mission.
She recently told dozens of disabled Goodwill workers that they no longer would receive a paycheck because of the state’s minimum wage increase — which doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020, and even then won’t be fully implemented until 2025. On top of that, Goodwill has permission from the federal government to pay workers below the minimum wage, according to a report on WCIA-TV.
Durbin’s message is especially galling because she makes about $165,000 as the agency’s CEO and employs her son, Brian Durbin, as the vice president of retail operations at a salary of more than $95,000 annually.
This mess can’t be cleaned up fast enough by the board of directors of Land of Lincoln Goodwill, which has retail shops in Champaign, Savoy and Danville.
Goodwill gets state grant money, and state officials already are threatening legislative hearings on the matter. It’s very likely the issue — and Durbin’s leadership — will be resolved by the time any hearings are held. But it will be worth reviewing whether other agencies that help the disabled or the needy are citing the upcoming minimum wage increase as an excuse to cut employees or services.