Prison Labor HierarchyJoint Ventures are at the “top” of the jobs for prisoners. Here are a few facts about Joint Venture:
Proposition 139, passed by California voters in 1990, allows private businesses to contract with the CDC to hire people incarcerated in CA state prisons to produce on prison grounds goods for sale.
Participating businesses get a 10% tax credit. Businesses do not have to pay overtime, worker’s compensation, vacation or sick leave.
Wages are comparable to wages earned on the outside. However, deductions are made for taxes, room and board, restitution and family support. The prisoner only receives 20% of wages. Training is unpaid.
In 2004, only 150 people incarcerated in California state prisons were employed though Joint Ventures and only 6 out of the 32 prisons have a Joint Ventures program. Both CCWF and VSPW have Joint Ventures. CCWF’s is with Allwire Corp. which manufactures cables, circuit boards, and other electronic components.
In 2002, 167 prisoners at Donovan State Correctional Facility won a class action lawsuit against CMT Blues which produces clothing for brands including Mecca, Seattle Cotton Works, Lee Jeans, No Fear, and Trinidad Tees, and were awarded $841,000 in back pay because of the company’s violations of wage and hour requirements.
In 2004, A San Diego Superior Court judge assumed control over the Joint Venture program in response to complaints that employed prisoners were not paid fairly or even at all. The stipulated injunction required that the director of the CDC Joint Venture program report to this judge on the status of compliance for two years.
Prison Industry Authority (PIA) are the second “layer” of jobs for prisoners. Pay starts at 30 cents per hour and goes up to 95 cents. At CCWF, for example, PIA jobs consist of:
PIA farm: cultivate almond trees and grow alfalfa
PIA warehouse: warehouse for prison supplies
PIA fabric: sew jumpsuits for county jails, men's underwear, men's T-shirts (for men's prisons). flags, silk screening. The shop looks like 19th century sweatshop, no a/c in summer, no heating in winter, lots of lint, which has caused fires when it gets into the machines, the preservative on the fabric causes women's hand to break out in hives, etc.
PIA dental lab: make dentures, partials, night-guards for state prisons and some veteran homes. It is a good skill. People are able to get a job outside after working there and getting experience. There used to be a training program, but it was cut a few years ago.
Bottom of the pyramid: the mostly unpaid, though sometimes paying 8 cents to 37 cents per hour jobs such as:
* central kitchen: various aspects of food preparation
* dining room: serving food, cleaning after meals, etc. Women in those jobs are sometimes burned by the heavy hot pans
* porters: mop, sweep, clean cop-shops
* yard crew: maintain the outside: have to work in all kind of weather with no protection (no sun-screen in the summer, little protection from the cold and rain in the winter)
* maintenance of electrical appliances: lights, fans, washers and dryers.
Last updated March 14, 2007 11:07 PM