Cheap Prison Labor Thwarts IAM Members at NAS Pensacola, U.S. Navy to Investigate


Left to right, IAM Headquarters General Vice President Bob Martinez, Jr., U.S. Naval Secretary Ray Mabus, AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department President Ron Ault and IAM District 75 Business Representative/Assistant Directing Business Representative Henry “Pappy” Perrigin meet to discuss the need for an investigation into the use of prison inmates to perform work belonging to IAM members at the Pensacola Naval Air Station (NAS) in Pensacola, FL.

U.S. Naval Secretary Ray Mabus has agreed to investigate the use of prison inmates to perform work belonging to IAM members at the Pensacola Naval Air Station (NAS) in Pensacola, FL.

IAM Headquarters General Vice President Bob Martinez, Jr., along with IAM District 75 Business Representative/Assistant Directing Business Representative Henry “Pappy” Perrigin and AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department President Ron Ault, called for the investigation in a meeting with Secretary Mabus.

Due to an interservice agreement between NAS Pensacola and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, more than 300 prisoners a day are bussed onto the base as inmate laborers. The agreement calls for the inmates to perform routine grounds maintenance work – but in reality, the prisoners are being used as cheap labor to circumvent union jobs belonging to IAM-represented service contract and government workers at Locals 2902 and 192 in Pensacola, FL.

The inmates’ pay: less than a dollar an hour.

“The inmates perform electrical, carpentry and masonry work,” said Perrigin. “They drive trucks and operate heavy machinery – oftentimes unsupervised. This work does not fall within the rules and regulations of inmate labor. It is a shameless maneuver to steal work from our hard-working members.”

Perrigin says to date, approximately four civilian workers have been laid off directly due to the use of cheap prison labor on the base. An estimated half dozen workers have been laid off indirectly.

“Turning prisoners into a cheap labor force to steal jobs from hard-working, law-abiding Americans is wrong,” said Martinez. “It’s just another ploy to circumvent workers’ rights and other laws that protect everyday American workers – while the employer reaps the cash. Our members at Locals 2902 and 192 deserve better. Secretary Mabus has promised a full investigation.”

Visit the IAM Southern Territory’s www.stopprisonlabor.org for more information on NAS Pensacola and the growing practice of unfair prison labor across the country.