Searching for the “best kept secret in outsourcing,” one that can “provide you with all the advantages” of domestic workers, but with “offshore prices”? Try prison labor!
That’s the message of Unicor, also known as Federal Prison Industries, a government-owned corporation that employs federal workers for as little as 23 cents an hour to manufacture military uniforms, furniture, electronics and other products.
Though FPI markets itself as an opportunity for inmates to obtain skills training, critics have attacked the program as exploitative. Small business owners have also complained that FPI’s incredibly low wages make it impossible to compete.
What’s more, businesses that partner with FPI are organized and regularly lobby the government on prison-related issues. Their trade group, the Correctional Vendors Association, lobbied Congress last year on the Justice Safety Valve Act, a bipartisan bill giving judges the power to impose a sentence below the mandatory minimum, including in drug-related cases.