Discussion - PIECP Violations - Pg. 5
Failure to Identify Industry Orders as PIECP
As argued elsewhere, PIECP partnerships with private sector manufacturers or businesses located within the state of the prison industry are only allowed through participation in the federal PIECP program.Yet prison industries continue to insist that the PIECP guidelines are only applicable to products shipped across state lines.
In Florida the prison industries of PRIDE maintain this argument, insisting they are not required to pay PIE wages to inmates when the products are being shipped to customers within Florida. Due to this misguided belief, PRIDE often times puts an order into production, listing the customer, product number, style, color and number of units ordered. The customer may be a private contractor, private corporation or other consumer with a Florida address. The order is run, filled and shipped with the inmate workers being paid the standard prison wage of between $.20 and $.50 per hour.
Inmate workers question why this private sector customer is receiving prison made products without their being paid PIE wages for the work. PRIDE Supervisors inform the prisoners that the products are manufactured for Florida corporations and PIECP guidelines do not apply in those instances where the products will not leave the state. This is simply not the case.
While the PIECP Guidelines under title Title 18 U.S.C. 1761(c) does address interstate transportation and sales of prison made goods it also allows private sector partnerships between prison industries and private manufacturers. In addition, it allows program participants to legally sell prisoner made goods upon the open markets. These markets were previously unavailable to prison industries and only via the PIECP program are they able to exploit sales within these private sector markets.
Participating industries now use the PIECP program to access these previously prohibited private sector customers within their state but then argue they are not required to abide by the program's Guidelines when manufacturing and selling their products to in-state customers as the PIE program does not apply to in-state sales and distribution. When the dust has settled the bottom line is the PIECP participating industries use the program to open the door to private sector markets, but believe they do not have to abide by the program restrictions, criteria or mandatory guidelines.
Another of their arguments is that they receive statements from these in-state customers that none of the products sold by the PIE industry will be sold or delivered out of the state of manufacture. Again, this is insufficient as a check against program abuses. In 2003 and 2004 PRIDE's UCI Metal Fabricating Industry received huge orders for new products from Century Graphics, a private retail distributor located in Orlando, Florida. The new products were "yard signs". These signs are typically used by real estate companies, political campaigns and others as advertising media. The initial order required inmate designers to draw up blueprints for the products and then they were prototyped as several requested by the customer. Century picked three (3) products they liked and they were put into production.
Inmate workers were paid PIE wages for the initial production run. After that run the following production orders were completed without the inmates receiving any PIE wages. When inmates questioned the loss of PIE wages for their work on these products, they were told by management that PRIDE had underbid the contract and if they paid the workers PIE wages, the industry would lose more than $2.00 per unit. In addition, the industry then claimed that the products were all to be used in Florida and since none were destined for out of state sale or distribution, these products no longer qualified as PIE work or wages.
When we contacted PRIDE about this particular customer and the tens of thousands of yard signs being manufactured for them, PRIDE provided the same excuses. However, in 2004 under pressure from us, PRIDE stated they found that approximately 10% of the products they made for Century Graphics were being sold and shipped out of state. They advised they were going back retroactively and seeing to it that the inmate workers received PIE wages on 10% of the orders.
It is simply not feasible for a prison industry to attempt to track their products after they are shipped and leave their facilities. If a state corporation orders products from the prison industry under authority of the PIECP program it makes no difference whether they state the products will not be sold or shipped out of state, as there is simply no way for the manufacturer to verify this statement absent having unfettered access to the customer's consumer data base and shipping records. In Florida PRIDE relies upon this inability of tracking to increase in-state sales and continue to underpay inmate workers on PIE products.
As argued elsewhere on this site, there is no provision within the PIECP Guidelines exempting state prison industries or their partners from the mandatory requirements when/where the prison made products are sold to customers within the state of manufacture. Likewise, there are no such exemption provisions in Title 42 USC 1761(c). In Florida the controlling PIE program law is 946.523 Prison industry enhancement (PIE) programs.-- it mirrors the federal counterpart and includes all the language of mandatory requirements contained within PIECP Guidelines (see full details of both Fl. 946.523, 1999 Final PIE Guidelines and Title 42 USC 1761(c) in our legal section page).