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Robert Barsocchini is general counsel for Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette

In a July 24 "Community Soapbox" opinion article, a former Goodwill employee discussed his experience working at the Oregon City Goodwill store. Unfortunately his article is so full of misrepresentations, inaccuracies and falsehoods that I am compelled to set the record straight. Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette (GICW) has operated a store in Oregon City and served the community for 15 years.

Mr. Mills untruthfully states that he was required to work as a donation attendent alone for hours on end without restroom breaks or other scheduled breaks as required by law. This is completely false. His assertion that employees "literally crawl to the door to receive donations" is equally false, and frankly, malicious. His claim that people with special needs are being "abused and exploited" is not only offensive, but is baseless.

GICW has been continually accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) since 1973. On June 30, 2018, GICW received an additional three-year accreditation from CARF, earning the highest possible score. GICW is recognized as an outstanding workforce development facility because of the high-quality and exemplary performance exhibited throughout the organization.

GICW was also held out as an example of a model organization in the recent landmark federal court case involving rehabilitation facilities in Oregon.

GICW complies with all laws and regulations and takes the concerns and welfare of its employees with the utmost seriousness.

GICW employs approximately 2,800 people in its northwest Oregon and southwest Washington territory. Total wages with taxes and benefits for 2018 were $102.118 million. There is no merit to the false claims asserted by GICW's former employee, Mr. Mills. Mills' assertion that the organization's CEO is the highest paid person in Oregon is also completely misinformed and patently false. CEO pay is set by the GICW Board following strict IRS guidelines designed to ensure reasonableness and fairness. Last year, GICW provided more than 500,000 services to 39,158 individuals through its free programs, including employee and community education, English as a second language, career-center and job-placement services, all of which are funded by Goodwill through its retail program. In 2018, GICW helped 13,385 people find jobs through its free Job Connection program. GICW's free Employee & Community Education and Career Center programs served 14,112 people during 2018. Goodwill's free English as a second language program helped 1,625 employees and community students overcome language barriers in 2018. In addition, Goodwill funded hundreds of thousands of dollars for relief services, including meal programs for people in need.

Goodwill is an equal-opportunity employer and offers vocational opportunities to individuals with barriers to employment through the many programs it operates with funding derived from its retail program. It is genuinely unfortunate that there are those who seek to besmirch Goodwill's name by spreading such falsehoods. We express our continued gratitude to the tremendous donors and patrons who help us further our mission and commitment to community through their generous support of our organization.

Robert Barsocchini is general counsel for Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette.


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