In 40 prisons across the country, thousands of prisoners are joining together and refusing to follow orders until their worker rights are met. They are striking against low wages earned, horrible working conditions, and violent punishments. Many prisoners have faced threats because of these protests, but they are standing their ground.
“This is a call to action against slavery in America,” organizers wrote in an announcement that for weeks circulated inside and outside prisons nationwide, and that sums up the strikers’ primary demand: an end to free or cheap prison labor. “Forty-five years after Attica, the waves of change are returning to America’s prisons. This September we hope to coordinate and generalize these protests, to build them into a single tidal shift that the American prison system cannot ignore or withstand.”
The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) is one of the main organizing groups of the strike. They “function as a liaison for prisoners to organize each other, unionize, and build solid bridges between prisoners on the inside and fellow workers on the outside.”
If a prisoner is medically able to work, they are forced to, for very little wage compared to how much work they have to put in. McDonalds, Nintendo, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, and Whole Foods all benefit from this form of inhumanity.
Unfortunately, mainstream media is not covering this issue despite its scope. The strike has been in the works for months and has been in effect for over a week now.