Your fancy goat cheese might be made by slaves
Whole Foods carries goat cheese that is made by forced labor. The workers get sixty cents a day. A day.
Says John Scaggs, Haystack’s marketing and sales director, referring to CCI: “They have land. They have human capital, the equipment. If you can think it up, they can do it, and do it fast.”
That diverse and nimble operation has attracted visits by officials from 22 prisons as well as steady interest from companies that want to tap CCI’s workforce. “I get one to two calls a week from companies,” says CCI director Steve Smith, adding that he declines those that simply want cheap labor.
The practice has long been controversial. Prisoners earn meager wages and have no recourse if they’re mistreated, LeBaron argues. Plus, they can take jobs from law-abiding citizens. “It’s hugely concerning in the face of economic instability and unemployment,” she says.
Counters Smith: “These are coveted jobs.” Base pay starts at 60 cents a day, but most prisoners earn $300 to $400 a month with incentives, he says. To be hired, inmates must get a GED and maintain good behavior for six months.
60 cents a day. In 2014. Now that’s the kind of labor exploitation I know from the history of American agriculture.
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