Last week, Montana State Prison lost their $1.5 million with Darigold to provide milk.
The contract had lasted for 30 years, now it’s done, and 280 head of cattle will now be moved off the prison farm.
A total of 700 inmates work in the prison’s various work programs, and we’re unsure how many will lose their current jobs working with the dairy cows. We do know that at least 33 inmates will be directly affected, as well as 5 staff members.
Seattle-based Darigold in turn had a contract with Seattle-based Costco to provide that milk, but Costco doesn’t want to employ people that aren’t making a “prevailing wage.”
I make it a point to mention Seattle, because we all know how mentally unstable that city has become.
“In 2018, Costco enacted a global policy on prison labor that allowed prison-made products so long as the inmates were paid a prevailing wage, with its first report in 2019. The next year, Darigold notified the prison it would not be able to meet the policy.”
How many in Montana are making that kind of wage right now? Lots of us that aren’t in the prison system aren’t making close to the $22.16 that Costco is demanding.
Seems a bit high, huh?
“The Department of Corrections tried to appeal to Costco. In a letter to the company the department tallied up the inmates’ wages, cost of room and board and health coverage, which included dental and vision, mental health services and savings for the inmates’ re-entry after their sentence.”
So that’s what it would cost the prison if they had to pay those inmates enough for them to also have an apartment, and cadillac healthcare.
Gosh...here on the outside we get a minimum of $8.75 an hour and the choice of crappy Obamacare plans that cost us hundreds of dollars a month!
But Costco isn’t concerned about that. They’re mostly concerned about their image and their stock price ($386). We’ll get to that below.
A lot of the people working in the dairy program looked forward to getting out of their cells as much as possible to work on the farm. Many were on their way to getting time knocked off their sentences for good behavior...behavior which came about because of the work they were doing. I also think it’s highly beneficial for troubled individuals to work with animals and the healing nature they impart.
Now that work is gone, they have to find new jobs, and I suspect there will be some lashing-out, some behavioral issues because of this.
All because we have a woke corporation that wants to make the world a better place.
Costco lists a lot of human rights issues on their site, and has PDF documents based on prison labor rules they want suppliers to follow. Here’s what they say about prisoner pay:
“The person’s gross wage paid shall be the same wage as a non-incarcerated person for the same type of work in the same geographic area. Any deductions from gross wages, whether by the employer or the facility, must be no more than allowed by law.”
So what are prisoners paid?
Here in Montana, they get $1.25 to $5 a day in wages, depending on their job. If they’re just in food service in the cafeteria, they get just 45 cents an hour.
This is standard across the country, with the average national prisoner wage coming in at 14 cents for the low and 63 cents for the high.
It’s pretty clear that not a single prison in this country will be providing anymore milk to Costco. I don’t know if other prisons are affected, but if they are, we’re looking at culling thousands of head of cattle from the herds, and losing hundreds of prisoner jobs in the process, as well as the sense of purpose it imparts to many of them.
It’s hard to keep going in prison; Costco just made it a lot harder.
And how will these changes affect the price of milk in Costco stores? How much more will consumers now have to pay for the company’s wokeism?
Who is this benefiting?
I think it's the ego of the corporate officers in charge of the company. They want to virtue-signal that they’re trying to make the world a better place, but more importantly, they want to fend-off any stories like the one that came out last year.
We learned that PETA did an investigation and found that “chained monkeys had been used to pick coconuts for major suppliers in Thailand.”
Oh, the humanity!
Because I’m pretty confident that whether Costco is buying that coconut milk or someone else, those Thai farmers are going to keep using monkey ‘slave labor.’ And really...how is that kind of work any different from what we force dolphins to do at Sea World, or elephants at the circus, or even seeing-eye dogs?
I guess if you have a chain around your neck it’s wrong; but a leash is perfectly alright.
Overall, I think these companies made a huge mistake. They want to do the right thing, but in trying to do so, they’ve done the wrong thing.
I’d like to take a brief moment to discuss one more thing, something not really related...but sort of.
It’s a different kind of broken contract.
Over 13,000 kids in this state are being raised by their grandparents, mainly because their own parents are struggling with addiction...meaning they can’t take care of them, they’re in prison, or they’re dead.
Imagine being in your 60s, you raised your own kids, and then you get a call one night telling you that you’ll now be raising your grandkids.
That’s gotta be tough, and these older Montanans need help. The Montana Area Agencies on Aging Association (M4A) is currently doing a year-long survey to figure out the extent of this problem, how it’s affecting the young kids, and how it’s impacting the older folks.
Montana is relatively well-off when it comes to this national crisis. I say this because we have 230,000 people under the age of 18 in this state, meaning the 13,000 being raised by their grandparents represents just 5% of all kids in the state.
That doesn’t make it any easier for the grandparents doing that work right now. It’s almost guaranteed that one of those older Montanans will have to rejoin the workforce if that happens.
Nationally, we know that 2.6 million kids are being raised by grandparents. Much of this comes about because of the 71,000 overdose deaths we’re having each year, with 70% of those coming from opioids.
That comes out to over 2% of kids in this country that are being raised by grandparents.
I’m very worried about this.
We know that “children in grandparent-led households are six times more likely to have had a parent or guardian serve time in jail, and four times more likely to have lived with someone who has a drug or alcohol problem,” and that “these kids are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”
So they’ve experienced trauma, they’ll likely be labeled as troublemakers in school, put on mind-altering drugs like Ritalin, and their learning will likely be slower than their peers.
Seems like these kids will be the most likely to end up in our state prison system, working jobs in the cafeteria or laundry...anywhere but the now-defunct dairy program.
At least these kids have family. Imagine being one of the 3,267 kids in our foster care program.
Want something worse than that?
Being one of the hundreds that doesn’t have a foster home, and has to live and sleep in some state-run or non-profit group home for unwanted kids.
We have nearly 3,500 foster kids but just 900 foster family homes to put them in.
Short-term, we’re able to contain these issues before they become problems, and that way we don’t have to acknowledge them or think about them.
But long-term - in a few years in some cases - these problems will bubble to the fore, and it’ll cost our state more money, which you’ll pay for in higher taxes.
Sadly, that’s the only reason many will ever take notice of this issue - when it begins to impact their own finances.