Facing donor backlash, Goodwill reverses decision to cancel paychecks for workers with disabilities

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — After thousands of people protested in a social media firestorm, the local chain of Goodwill thrift stores announced “we are reversing the decision” to cancel paychecks for 12 of 50 workers with disabilities.

“The outpouring of comments regarding our decision…and its impact on 12 program participants has caused us to take pause,” a statement said. “While we must be good stewards of our nonprofit, we must remain sharply focused on our mission.”

The Land of Lincoln Goodwill organization employs 450 people at 15 retail locations across Central Illinois, from Quincy to Danville, and from Bloomington down to Vandalia.

The two-page statement was signed by Sharon Durbin, the Executive Director who makes $164,849 per year plus $6,145 in benefits. Her son Brian Durbin, who pastors an area church while attending college, according to his Facebook page, also works for the Springfield Goodwill headquarters, and makes an annual salary of $95,747 at the nonprofit.

While Durbin’s initial announcement blamed the state’s yet-to-be-enacted minimum wage hike for the job cuts, her apology letter took an about face.

“I am committed to exploring how the state’s new minimum wage law can help raise up those we serve as well as the 400 employees in our organization,” Durbin wrote.

WCIA sent a number of questions to the board members seeking comment on Durbin’s public statements and her original decision, including whether or not the move could have constituted workplace discrimination. At the time of this publication, no calls or emails have been returned.

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