TEACH INMATES JOB SKILLS, DON'T TAKE JOBS FROM LAW-ABIDING WORKERS

Jul 27, 1999
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – "Just one year ago, Glamour Glove was in jeopardy of losing a major portion of its business to Federal Prison Industries (FPI), the inmate-work program to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP), which runs a centrally-managed chain of 99 factories that employed 20,200 inmate-workers and hard sales of $534.3 million in 1998, making FPI the 35th largest contractor to the Federal Government, just behind IBM with $593.4 million in Government sales.

"Together with the dedicated support of Unite we successfully blunted FPI’s attempt to illegally expand its production of various types of gloves for the Department of Defense, gloves produces by Glamour Glove and other small businesses around the country. But other American workers’ jobs are in danger across the nation from FPI expansions - those making military clothing in Tennessee and Alabama; those manufacturing furniture in Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia; those making defense electrical components in New Jersey, and workers from coast to coast providing all types of services to the government and the commercial market.

"FPI is now embarked on its most aggressive expansion yet - offering inmate-workers to furnish, for the first time, services in the commercial market-place, rather than only to the Federal Government market, to which it is statutorily restricted.
"We are here today in support the Federal Prison Industries Competition in Contracting Act of 1999 (HR 2551). For the first time, private sector firms would be able to compete for the federal government contracts that FPI has been able to simply "take" under its 1935 statute. The Hoekstra-Frank-Collins-Maloney bill would stop FPI from initiating its self granted authority to sell services in the commercial market, protecting law-abiding workers and the firms, large and small, that employ them. It would also tax-dollars of hard working American families by stripping FPI of the authority to overcharge its federal agency customers, dictating deliveries schedules, and , determining unilaterally, whether the FPI product meets the federal agency’s mission needs.

"Almost uniquely in the bill before the current congress, HR 2551 has equally strong support from the AFL-CIO as from the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and a broad array of business groups representing virtually every segment of business.

"On Tuesday, July 20, Rep. Bill McCollum, a Republican from Florida, introduced what he calls the "Prison Industries Reform Act of 1999" (HR 2558). This bill would actually expand prison industry programs - state and local as well as federal prison industries. It would authorize all prison industry programs to sell products and services in the commercial market, in direct, but unfair, competition with law-abiding workers and the firms that employ them. The McCollum bill is devoid of enforceable protection for non-inmate workers, such as protection from job displacement, i.e., taking a job currently held by a law-abiding worker and giving it to an inmate worker.

"Our legislation protects the jobs of law abiding workers, representatives of organized labor, and the entrepreneurs that provide these jobs."

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