Cheap prison labor used to build U.S. military weapons?

Destroy local labor while building weapons to destroy foreign enemies!

Mike Elk wrote for Alternet 28 April 2011, Defense Contractors Using Prison Labor to Build High-Tech Weapons Systems

It is a little known fact of the attack on Libya that some of the components of the cruise missiles being launched into the country mayl have been made by prisoners in the United States. According to its website, UNICOR, which is the organization that represents Federal Prison Industries, “supplies numerous electronic components and service for guided missiles, including the Patriot Advanced Capability Missile (PAC-3)”.

In addition to constructing electronic components for missiles, prison labor in the United States is used to make electronic cables for defense items like “the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing (BA) F-15, the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16, Bell/Textron’s (TXT) Cobra helicopter, as well as electro-optical equipment for the BAE Systems”.

Traditionally these types of defense jobs would have gone to highly paid, unionized workers. However the prison workers building parts for these missiles earn a starting wage of 23 cents an hour and can only make a maximum of $1.15 an hour.

Maybe you’re out of a job. Can you compete with 23 cents an hour?

More detail in Noah Schactman’s Danger Room story

And Justin Rohrich, who apparently broke the story, says Lockheed Martin demanded a correction because they claim:

We have been in contact with the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command Lower Tier Project Office, who is responsible for the Patriot missile program, and have received confirmation that absolutely no part or component produced by Unicor is being or has ever been used in the PAC-3 Missile, of which Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor.

The U.S. Army Lower Tier Project Office has made an official, written request of Unicor to remove all references to the PAC-3 Missile from its Web site as soon as possible.

We respectfully request that a correction to your story be made immediately that clearly states that no component or part from Unicor has been or is being used in the production or repair of the PAC-3 Missiles, and that you expunge all references in the story to Lockheed Martin and the PAC-3 Missile.

Rohrich asks for someone to explain the widespread bragging about PAC-3 missiles in Unicor’s marketing materials.

A private prison in Lowndes County might not hire out prisoners to make PAC-3 missiles, but in what other ways would its prisoners compete with local labor?