Most Kentuckians know by now the story of Ashland Sales and Service, the company in Olive Hill, KY that manufactures jackets for the Air Force. Last week we learned that the company might close because a government-owned company called Federal Prison Industries threatened to underbid them on the contract. Federal Prison Industries can underbid a company like Ashland because they use convicts for labor and only pay between 23 cents and $1.15 an hour for the work. Fortunately, publicity in newspapers around the state and outrage from ordinary citizens created enough political pressure that FPI decided not to bid on the contract, saving about 100 jobs in Olive Hill.
Unfortunately, Federal Prison Industries is at it again, this time bidding on a contract for tee shirts held by Campbellsville Apparel Company in Taylor County. Beyond the sheer wrong of a government-owned company competing against a private enterprise, there is this to consider: if Federal Prison Industries fails to secure this contract, the convicts will still be in prison paying for their misdeeds and receiving food, clothing, and shelter, sorry as it may be. If Campbellsville fails to secure the contract, many workers there will lose their jobs, and the food, clothing, and shelter of their families will be in jeopardy. Where is the justice in that?
I hope the people of Kentucky will call and write their respective Congressmen and both Senators demanding they put a stop to this. I am.