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Thursday, January 04, 2007


Shawn F.

Few are aware, that one of the key causes of the Civil war was the North not wanting slavery to spread to their region out of fear of losing jobs to free labor. Fast forward to the twenty first century; where slavery has supposedly been outlawed, and job seekers deem their only competition to be outsourcing, technology, and the immigrant workforce. The immigrant workforce has become less of a threat due to the government’s new immigrant labor laws and border restrictions. I wonder if anybody ever took the time to think about why a country that has depended on cheap immigrant labor for so long moved so quickly to pass laws that would severely restrict it. Could it be that the government has found another more inexpensive source of labor, there by making the immigrant workforce expendable? I believe so. With corporate owned prison’s basically leasing out inmates to commercial enterprise at wages that make it comparable to slavery, it has become apparent to me that job seekers have a new competitor.
There are numerous essays that have been written about American prison institutions and slave labor. Many American citizens could careless about the enslavement of prison inmates - believing it’s well deserved. Others feel that since the inmates are already in prison they might as well spend their time productively. Few have acknowledged the threat that prison labor poses to our society’s job market. Maybe the reluctance of mainstream media to expose companies that have been robbing job seekers of employment by employing inmates at slave wages have left people in the dark on the issue. People aren’t informed of the fact that companies such as Honda employ prison inmates to make car parts for $2 an hour when a free man would earn a wage of $20 or $30 an hour to do the same job. It even goes as far as companies like AT&T and TWA hiring prison inmates to do such things as telemarketing and taking reservations for airlines - processing credit card information and social security numbers. Think about the number of applicants these companies deny employment every year because they marked yes to the “Have you ever been convicted of a Felony” question, think about the number of applicants these companies turn away each year for not having a High School diploma or GED, the applicants they tell are overqualified, the applicants they tell are under qualified, now think about those companies giving those same jobs to an under qualified, in some cases uneducated, prison inmate. Allow me to use this analogy. Let’s say a girl named Sara works at a department store. Sara has two kids and is desperate for over time and any extra hours she can work (and use) to make extra money to feed her children. One day a guy, let’s call him Tom, walks into her store and steals a pair of pants. The store owner calls the police, Tom gets arrested, goes to court and the judge sentences him to work in that department store for 30 days for no pay. The owner of the department store realizes how much money he could save with this arrangement and cuts Sara’s schedule from 40 hours a week to 20. Think about who suffers in that scenario. Imagine the government adopting a policy which allows corporate owned prison’s to lease prison inmates to work for commercial enterprises. Imagine the amount of jobs that would be lost from the amount of revenue these companies could save on payroll, and then imagine this not being a hypothetical scenario, imagine it being reality. Here’s something I snatched off the net courtesy of WSWS (world socialist website). “Lockhart Technologies, Inc. closed its plant in Austin, Texas, dismissing its 150 workers so that it could open shop in a state prison in Lockhart. The prisoners assemble circuit boards for industrial giants such as IBM, Compaq and Dell. Lockhart is not required to pay for health or any other benefits. The company must pay the prison the federal minimum wage for each laborer, but the inmates get to keep only 20 percent of that.” If you’d like to know more about this issue I suggest you look at this site link


By: Shawn F.

1 comment:

Adam said...

And let's not forget about the revolving door known as internships where companies get free labor and rather than promoting anyone to a paying position they just throw them right back out in favor of more free labor. Fat Cat CEO's get more "company cars" and people who need 30K a year jobs get "valuable work experience." Blech!