U.S prison system has capitalized on this and uses inmates for slave labor under the guise of “inmate rehabilitation”.
You most probably do support modern slavery.
Not surprisingly, corporations have lobbied for a broader and broader definition of “crime” in the last 150 years. As a result, there are more (mostly dark-skinned) people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today
With 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prison population, the United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world. No other society in history has imprisoned more of its own citizens. There are half a million more prisoners in the U.S. than in China, which has five times our population. Approximately 1 in 100 adults in America were incarcerated in 2014. Out of an adult population of 245 million that year, there were 2.4 million people in prison, jail or some form of the detention center.
The vast majority – 86 percent – of prisoners have been locked up for non-violent, victimless crimes, many of them drug-related.
While prison labor helps produce goods and services for almost every big business in America.
Whole Foods – You ever wonder how Whole Foods can afford to keep their prices so low (sarcasm)? Whole Foods’ coffee, chocolate, and bananas might be “fair trade,” but the corporation has been offsetting the “high wages” paid to third-world producers with not-so-fair-wages here in America.
The corporation, famous for it’s animal welfare rating system, apparently was not as concerned about the welfare of the human “animals” working for them in Colorado prisons until April of this year.
You know that $12-a-pound tilapia you thought you were buying from “sustainable, American family farms?” It was raised by prisoners in Colorado, who were paid as little as 74 cents a day. And that fancy goat cheese? The goats were raised and milked by prisoners too.
McDonald’s – The world’s most successful fast-food franchise purchases a plethora of goods manufactured in prisons, including plastic cutlery, containers, and uniforms. The inmates who sew McDonald’s uniforms make even less money by the hour than the people who wear them.
Wal-Mart – Although their company policy clearly states that “forced or prison labor will not be tolerated by Wal-Mart,” basically every item in their store has been supplied by third-party prison labor factories. Wal-Mart purchases its produce from prison farms, where laborers are often subjected to long hours in the blazing heat without adequate food or water.
Victoria’s Secret – Female inmates in South Carolina sew undergarments and casual-wear for the pricey lingerie company. In the late 1990’s, two prisoners were placed in solitary confinement for telling journalists that they were hired to replace “Made in Honduras” garment tags with “Made in the USA” tags.
AT&T – In 1993, the massive phone company laid off thousands of telephone operators—all union members—in order to increase their profits. Even though AT&T’s company policy regarding prison labor reads eerily like Wal-Mart’s, they have consistently used inmates to work in their call centers since ’93, barely paying them $2 a day.
BP (British Petroleum) – When BP spilled 4.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf Coast, the company sent a workforce of almost exclusively African-American inmates to clean up the toxic spill while community members, many of whom were an out-of-work fisherman, struggled to make ends meet. BP’s decision to use prisoners instead of hiring displaced workers outraged the Gulf community, but the oil company did nothing to reconcile the situation.
Bank of America Corporation
Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.
Costco Wholesale Corporation
Deere & Company
Golden Gate Capital
Eli Lilly and Company
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Glaxo Wellcome Inc.
Hoffmann Laroche Inc.
International Paper Company
Johnson & Johnson
Sears Holdings Corporation
Koch Industries, Inc.
Mary Kay, Inc.
Merck & Co Inc
Nintendo Co. Ltd.
The Procter & Gamble Company
ConAgra Foods, Inc.
Hillshire Brands Company
The Unilever Group
Royal Dutch Shell plc
Wireless Solutions Incorporated
State Farm Insurance
United Continental Holdings
United Parcel Service, Inc.
Verizon Communications Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Workers in the global sports wear and garment industry are living in poverty even though they have paid jobs. The workers produce for companies like Nike, Adidas, Puma, Asics, FILA and New Balance. These workers are mostly young women aged 17–24 who often endure low wages and long hours in dangerous and hostile conditions.
The low prices of iPhones and iPads — and the super-high profit margins of Apple — are only possible because iPhones and iPads are made with labour practices that would be illegal in many western countries. Most of the employees who make the iPhones and iPads not only don’t have iPhones and iPads (because they can’t afford them), but, in some cases, have never even seen them.
Many of these workers do not like describing their workplaces as sweatshops because they think it makes them sound like victims. These workers know their wages and conditions are unacceptably low and many of them organize protests to demand better wages and conditions, even though doing so can put their jobs at risk.