Michael Bloomberg Exploited Prison Labor to Benefit His Presidential Campaign [Opinion]
Leadership

Michael Bloomberg Exploited Prison Labor to Benefit His Presidential Campaign [Opinion]

Black Prison population Biden
(iStock/thawornnurak)

When it comes to the Michael Bloomberg for president campaign, it’s all hands on deck, including prison labor. According to a report by The Intercept, ProCom—a third-party vendor contracted by the Bloomberg campaign—used incarcerated women in Oklahoma to make campaign calls to voters based in California. But social action shouldn’t be exempted in primaries.

Shortly after Bloomberg announced his candidacy, I wrote an article outlining 4 reasons why Michael Bloomberg isn’t good for black voters. Well, add one more to the list, which is likely to increase during the primary.

If you’re like me, I didn’t know using prison labor was even possible for a federal campaign or any political endeavor for that matter; especially, since most inmates cannot vote. So, why would Bloomberg’s campaign exploit female inmates? Because that’s where cheap labor is which undermines Bloomberg’s claims to support women’s rights and equal pay.

But are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. Bloomberg is spending money like it’s his own and being frugal is not uncommon for the 9th richest man in the world. Also, anyone who understands how Bloomberg operates knows he is adamant about vetting individuals, vendors and representatives that he uses for business or political purposes.

Although the campaign is no longer using ProCom, voters who were considering Bloomberg are now likely pondering an important question. If he is engaging in this type of decision-making, what would it mean if he wins the nomination? Or, even more unsettling, he becomes the 46th president of the United States.

Bloomberg’s blunder occurred at a time when uber-progressive Democrats are exerting political pressure over public pension funds to divest from private prisons and any correctional facility that exploits prison labor. Workers’ rights are a common theme for liberals in the 2020 presidential election.

On the brink of the 2020 election 

Just a couple of weeks ago, all Democratic presidential candidates who qualified for the sixth debate refused to cross the union line amid a labor dispute where employees refused to work any longer without a contract and demanded a fair pay increase and enhanced benefits.

In a competitive race to be the Democratic nominee, the prison labor scandal was a missed opportunity for a self-proclaimed prison-reform guy like Bloomberg. Instead of ending the contract, he could’ve just paid the inmates minimum wage.

My dad always said, “don’t tell me, show me.” I say the same thing to Bloomberg. Don’t tell people what you are going to do, show them by doing it. If he really wanted to help the less fortunate, he could have championed a worthy cause like reentry by providing employment opportunities at prevailing wages from the outset.

One of the toughest things for inmates to overcome is a tainted reputation which precludes them from gainful employment and increases recidivism rates. But if done right and paid fairly, prison labor could be a prudent way to provide employable skills, work experience, confidence, healthy team-building skills, and the transforming attitudes about life.

Bloomberg is challenging Biden’s frontrunner status in the upcoming primaries by spending $125 million on ads, which is a small pittance of his personal wealth. Bloomberg has already outspent all other Democratic candidates on media ads to date. However, the black vote is holding steady for Biden and Bloomberg is not giving them a viable alternative.


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