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Labor Laws are Being Defeated with a Clever Brand Name
By: Emory Brown
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Throughout American history we have seen stories of people fighting for their labors rights. From women to minorities to child workers, America has had to chastise entrepreneurs with lawsuits and new legislation to protect people. Unfortunately, we are going to have to call Lady Justice once again because the scales are unbalanced in the American workforce. Prisoners in United States penal system are rented out to major corporations to do free labor or be paid pennies to do the work of highly skilled workers, undermining labor laws. Undermining American workers! Undermining our economy! All with a brand named "Inmate Labor.”

While some corporations are shifting America’s jobs to emerging markets because of cheap production costs, some of our beloved brands are disguised as red-blooded Americans as they tap into the unlimited pool of free labor or pay below minimum-wage standards to produce their products and services. Prisons are opening their doors to every industry in America to take part in this feast of unregulated and non-law-abiding production facilities that are churning out products and services that are used every day by consumers.

Everything from fish farms to military contracts are being touched by the guise of this low-cost labor, which is supposed to be a part of the rehabilitation of inmates. Inmates are making saddles, raising fish, and working in call centers located in prisons performing customer service tasks. Thousands upon thousands of jobs are lost in the economy because of this labor. Small businesses are being destroyed because they have to pay their employees cost-of-living wages that are in compliance with state and government laws while corporations pay inmates as little as $1.85 per hour to produce products and services that are, in the natural marketplace, created by highly skilled workers.

Step back, pull out the magnifying glass, and let us transform into Sherlock Holmes for a short minute. If you’re an inmate and you have a family at home, what can $1.85 pay to support your family? That’s the price of the average loaf of bread. In Chicago that’s 15 cents shy of what it costs to take a one-way ride on the subway. What is really going on? Think about it! Jobs are being stolen right beneath our noses right in our own backyards. Prisoners are being exploited. Labor laws are being undermined! 

This is disturbing— guys and girls locked behind bars only receive food, shelter, and a few dollars to cover up the reality that their rights are being stepped on every day. Under the name of “inmate labor,” corporations are exploiting cheap labor and increasing profits at staggering rates. All we’re witnessing is a new brand name for a cruel and old business model.


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About the Author
Emory Brown is an award-winning creative director/writer whose mission is to spread the gospel of what great marketers can do when they put their heads together and work together for the greater good and not the bottom line. Working with many esteemed clients, his portfolio of work ranges in genre from conservative to ultra-modern including American Family Insurance, United Airlines, Mazda 6 and RX-8, Illinois Lottery, Tyson, Miller Genuine Draft, Nike Air Force 1, and Mercedes Benz, to name a few.  
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