How Whole Foods Exploits Prison LaborIt has been revealed that in addition to allegedly overcharging and mislabeling its products, the company is using prison labor at a base pay of just 60 cents per day.
In the past couple of months, supermarket chain Whole Foods has drawn the wrath of its organic suppliers and has been accused of “systematic overcharging” and mislabeling.
But that’s not all.
It has been revealed that many of the company’s overpriced products are cultivated by inmates in U.S. prisons who earn a pittance for their labor.
Ben Norton writes in CounterPunch:
The renowned “green capitalist” organic supermarket chain pays what are effectively indentured servants in the Colorado prison system a mere $1.50 per hour to farm organic tilapia.
Colorado prisons already grow 1.2 million pounds of tilapia a year, and government officials and their corporate companions are chomping at the bit to expand production.
Whole Foods also buys artisinal cheeses and milk cultivated by prisoners. The prison corporation Colorado Correctional Industries has created what Fortune describes as “a burgeoning $65 million business that employs 2,000 convicts at 17 facilities.”
The base pay of these prison workers is 60¢ per day. Whole Foods purchases cheeses from these prisons, which literally pay prison laborers mere pennies an hour, and subsequently marks up the price drastically.
The double standards are striking. One would think exploiting prisoners—individuals incarcerated by the state—would contradict putative libertarian values of voluntarism, voluntary association, and non-coercion. Yet critics would argue right-wing libertarians have never been ones to demonstrate moral consistency.
In fact, [CEO John Mackey] also firmly opposes basic libertarian values vis-à-vis workers’ rights and labor organizing. He forbids Whole Foods employees from unionizing, comparing workers’ democratic control over their own workplaces and lives to herpes. A union “doesn’t kill you, but it’s unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover,” [he] declared.
Read more here.
–Posted by Roisin DavisWait, before you go…
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