The sordid love affair between corporate America and prison inmates deserves far more attention than it currently receives, and not just because unemployment is high and the nation is struggling to escape the worst recession in 70 years.
A particularly outrageous example of the practice is taking place at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL, the home of the Blue Angels, the Navy’s precision aerial aerobatic team. While the IAM represents government and service contract workers on the base, the Navy has nearly 300 inmates working there every day.
Prison inmate laborers at NAS Pensacola are paid 12 to 40 cents an hour to perform grounds and building maintenance and construction work.
IAM members working on military bases across the nation are required to have a Common Access Card (CAC), which authorizes access. Recently, Navy officials have been revoking CAC cards and forcing termination of workers with bad credit and minor legal problems. Yet the Navy continues to allow convicted felons to work and drive on the base.
The IAM Southern Territory has created a new website, www.stopprisonlabor.org that shines a much-needed light on the practice. The website is a clearing house that details the growing practice of the new indentured workforce.
“The practice of replacing hard-working Americans with prison inmates is a crime in itself,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez, Jr. “I urge all of our members to visit our site, and to use social media to let their friends know what is going on. We need to stop this practice.”