RecycleForce is raising its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for its hourly staff, which currently consists of 125 formally incarcerated men and women. Last week, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors. That act follows the President’s urging of Congress to “give America a raise” during the recent State of the Union address.
As a social enterprise based in the Heartland, RecycleForce focuses on recycling electronic waste while offering transitional employment and workforce training to some of the most challenging-to-employ ex-offenders in Marion County. Taking the electronic waste and other recyclables provided by residents and corporate partners, RecycleForce deconstructs these items, recycles the materials and disposes of the waste safely and cleanly. The scrap metals and other reusable materials collected in this process are then sold to help pay for job training programs and employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated men and women in order to support their re-entry back into society.
“After the President’s speech, two of our employees asked, ‘Are you one of those federal contractors the President’s order impacts?’” said RecycleForce President Gregg Keesling. “While the executive order does not apply to us at this time, their attention to the President’s speech impressed me and prompted me to consider voluntarily raising our minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.”
The wage increase follows the end of a two-year study with the U.S. Department of Labor in which RecycleForce provided transitional employment to 504 individuals. RecycleForce was one of seven organizations from across the country selected to participate in the congressionally authorized Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration program.
The pay raise will go into effect March 1; the current starting wage for all RecycleForce hourly employees is $9.00 per hour. Employees already earning $10.00 per hour or higher will receive a $1.00 per hour increase.
“To make the increase possible, we have asked our full-time, salaried staff to forego scheduled pay increases to help those with the greatest need. It’s one of the most honorable things I’ have ever been a part of,” said Keesling.
Keesling notes that while the nonprofit’s hourly employees have made mistakes in the past, once they are released from incarceration they have done their time.
“Numerous studies prove that a job is the key ingredient in the recipe for stronger communities and reducing recidivism,” added Keesling, “Our role is create those job opportunities and at a fair, living wage.”
Businesses that want to help lead the way to a fair minimum wage can learn more here.
For more information visit RecycleForce.org.
Photo Credit: RecycleForce
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