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Temp Workers Come to Prison

The warden at the John Lilly Correctional Center in Boley, Oklahoma, has initiated a program of using temporary workers (he calls them "Temp Cops") to save money. The temp cops are off-duty policemen used to supplement the guard staff.

The American labor movement has been hard hit by the use of temp workers in other sectors of the economy. Large businesses like using temp workers because they can get away with paying them less than regular employees and, more importantly, temp workers are subjected to all the hazards of employment with none of the traditional benefits such as pensions, health or medical coverage, insurance, unemployment benefits, etc. In other words, it's another means for capitalists to squeeze the maximum profit out of workers. Because of the workers' temporary nature, it makes collective bargaining by unions and such almost impossible.

The Oklahoma program is touted as a "success" because the temporary guards do not go through the six-week guard training program and cannot earn overtime. It is ironic that many rural communities in the U.S. actively seek prisons as a way to reduce unemployment (prisons have been called "welfare for poor, rural white communities") while the prison trend now may well be to reduce permanent employees and use temp workers.

We would hope that unions representing not just guards but also other government employees take notice of this and take steps to halt this trend before it spreads to all areas of civil government.

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