Florida Prisoners Are Preparing to Strike Against Unpaid Labor

People incarcerated throughout the state of Florida are planning a January 15 work stoppage to protest their conditions, and they say they are prepared to continue the protest for more than a month.
Prisoners in eight prisons are expected to participate in the effort, which they refer to as Operation PUSH. The strike, which was purposely scheduled to coincide with Martin Luther King Day, is designed to advance three major changes: a reduction of canteen prices, payment for labor and parole incentives for prisoners serving life sentences. It is not immediately clear how many incarcerated people intend to participate.
News of the action spread after a statement was posted on SPARC (Supporting Prisoners and Real Change), a Facebook page used by Florida prisoners and their families. The statement was compiled from a series of messages sent by prisoners to the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee’s Gainesville chapter and the national Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons.
“Every institution must prepare to lay down for at least one month or longer,” the statement reads. “Our goal is to make the governor realize that it will cost the state of Florida millions of dollars daily to contract outside companies to come and cook, clean, and handle the maintenance. This will cause a total breakdown. In order to become very effective, we must use everything we have to show that we mean business.”
The prisoners’ statement claims that cases of soup purchased in the prisons cost $17—well above their cost outside of the prison. “This is highway robbery without a gun,” says the post. They’re also asking for payment for their labor, “rather than the current slave arrangement.” Despite a few exceptions, Florida is one of only six states where prison jobs remain unpaid.
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