Discussion on PIECP Violations
PIECP VIOLATIONS DISCUSSION
Copyright (C) - Bob Sloan, 2010
Failure to Consult local Labor Unions and Groups and
Failure to Consult with Private Industry
Of the nine (9) mandatory PIECP criteria numbers seven (7) and eight (8) requires the prison authority to consult with local organized labor groups or associations prior to starting a PIECP prison program. In addition the prison authorities are further required to consult with private sector industries prior to start-up. These two (2) requirements read:
"7. Written proof of consultation with related organized labor before PIE Certification Program startup.
"8. Written proof of consultation with related local private industry before PIE Certification Program startup."
The legislative reasoning behind these requirements should be obvious to prison industry authorities - to make sure that opening the prison operation will not interfere with private sector labor pools or manufacturers in the immediate area. As important as these issue are, they're seldom complied with.
In 2008 in Lufkin, Texas, the Lufkin Trailer Division was forced to close the doors of their operation and terminate more than 150 private sector employees. Prior to the decision to close permanently, Lufkin attempted to identify the reason for the loss of sales of their trailer lines. They knew of several other trailer manufacturers nearby, but they indicated they also were experiencing a decline in sales. Only after an in-depth investigation did Lufkin learn that in 2005 the Texas agency, Private Sector Prison Industries Oversight Authority issued a PIECP Certificate to Direct Trailer and Equipment Co. for them to start-up a PIE prison industry to manufacture and sell the same style of trailers being manufactured by Lufkin. For more than three (3) years Direct Trailer was in competition with Lufkin, without Lufkin being aware of the competition or that the competitor was a PIECP prison industry project.
Lufkin cried foul and contacted Senator Robert Nichols about the prison industry and advised they were unaware of the competitor and wanted to know what the PIECP program was all about. They questioned the use of tax dollars to fund a manufacturer to compete with the taxpayers private sector operations. Nichols found that the Private Sector Prison Industries Oversight Authority issued certification to Direct Trailer without full knowledge of the impact upon local businesses or labor. Nichols stated:
"When he investigated Direct Trailer's 2005 certification, he discovered that the board compared only overall employment in the area against national employment data without looking at local employment data for "specific skills, crafts or trades," as was also required."
The BJA was contacted about the operation and the situation, and assured everyone they would investigate the allegations. Eventually the Private Sector Industries Oversight Authority decided to not renew the certification and contracts for Direct Trailer and Equipment when they expire.
The outcome of the Lufkin incident is that Nichols proposed legislation ( SB 1169 )to abolish the Private Sector Prison Industries Oversight Authority and turn over the PIECP operation oversight to the Texas Department of Justice. The legislation also prohibits the operation of PIECP industries if such an operation will cost Texas citizens their jobs. Of course, for the 150+ workers Lufkin had to let go, that is small satisfaction, indeed. There are several news articles in our documents section and links to the actual articles on our links page.
The foregoing demonstrates two things; 1) that there are very good reasons for the mandatory requirements of the PIECP program, and; 2) what can and will happen when the requirements are ignored by prison industry and PIECP authorities.