Jobs Going to Prison

American Power Source, a Fayette company that makes military uniforms, has announced plans to lay off 50 workers in Alabama and Mississippi. You might expect them to be following in the footsteps of many an Alabama textile company, shipping jobs overseas. But no. American Power Source says it can’t compete with bargain-basement wages paid to federal prison inmates, the Tuscaloosa News reports.

Just weeks before, the company announced it would close both plants, laying off 260 workers, but pulled back to a 20 percent layoff.

“It is especially hard when our own government is taking away our jobs while they are saying they are helping to create jobs, ” Manager Cathy Griffith told the News.

She quotes a New York Times story saying that Federal Prison Industries pays inmates between 23 cents and $1.15 per hour for their work, while her workers’ wages start at $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage.

American Apparel closed its plant in Fort Deposit earlier this year for the same reason, the News says.

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By Nedra Bloom

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