|Prison Labor Billboard|
Fond du Lac Building trades sponsor prison labor billboard
Local #1086 spearheads effort to end practice of
Billboards tell the story of construction workers losing jobs to convicts and raises the question of who's job is next, as the state Department of Corrections tries to keep prisoners "busy."
"Convicts are doing construction work at Waupun Prison -- is your job next?" now appears on billboards in Waupun and outside Fond du Lac. The billboards, which were spearheaded by Laborers' Local #1086, are intended to bring public attention to the Department of Correction's decision to let prisoners perform demolition of cell doors at the aging Waupun Correctional facility.
"This Local has twenty members on-the-bench who can use that work to support their families," said Tom Klein, Business Manager of Local #1086. "Sure we need to keep prisoners busy but stealing work from law-abiding citizens is not the answer."
The work in question is demolition being performed as part of a $5 million four-stage project to replace an antiquated manual locking system with automated devises in four cell halls at the prison.
The Department says using prisoners to do the work saves the state over $1 million over the life of the one and a half year project.
Klein disagrees. "The Department of Corrections won't know if it "saved" any money until the project is completed," he said. "The fact is, the work has to get done and they are spending $5 million dollars on a project whose total costs are totally dependent upon the productivity of a prison labor force that has little experience and possibly less incentive for doing this work."
In addition to productivity issues, Klein noted other inherent safety and occupational health hazards associated with demolition work, such as possible asbestos and lead contamination.
"When you say 'demolition,' most people think you're busting rocks," Klein said. "The problem is, you're more often cutting, grinding and torching, basically putting toxins in the air that if not properly contained cause great harm to anyone who comes in contact with them."
The Local has sent a letter to Waupun Correctional, requesting information regarding procedures in place to protect workers and prisoners from contaminants at the site.
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