The following letters from incarcerated workers in the Pennsylvania prison system were sent by email on Feb. 13 and 15 to Joe Piette, a member of the Prisoners Solidarity Committee of Workers World Party.
From SCI Frackville
As I’ve advised you before, anything that I can do for the people, I will do. At 54 years of age, I’d like to say I did something meaningful with my life and stood for something for the people.
I’m appalled to learn of the working conditions [at Amazon] as well as the low wages there. I find it ironic that, up here in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, they offer $16 to $20 per hour entry level. I say this to give you an idea of what they are willing to pay.
But I do know that no one’s going to give us anything we don’t demand for ourselves. It’s power in numbers. Take a stand and mean it, have our family and friends stop patronizing their businesses, and make sure they know what the people are doing.
If it means finding other means to acquiring that which we desire, be it as it may! They’ll get the point. At the end of the day, it’s about the bottom line, i.e., the almighty dollar. Currently I was in the process of buying three books from them creeps. This gave me reason to search elsewhere for the books, and as such I have shared this communiqué with those close to me.
Collectively we can make a difference. We have to take the approach of, though they are one of the largest employers, they are not the only employer. And for the record, they got their success off of our backs.
We are in this with y’all. Get what you’ve/we’ve earned & settle for nothing less!
Sincerely, your brother in the struggle,
— S. Naiym Harper
From SCI Pine Grove
Amazon is not a new fight for the people of the South for equality and equity in the workplace. Alabama, the very heart of the Civil Rights Movement, finds itself again at the precipice of change, challenging corporate America and big business.
Capitalism at its core is designed for greed and mistreatment of its workforce, only concerned with driving its profits up at all costs. That cost is usually at the expense of its workforce, like now at the Bessemer Amazon [warehouse]. They are being forced to work for low wages and [in] poor and often unsafe working conditions to help Amazon’s bottom line.
Unions have long been a check on capitalism’s predatory nature. Bessemer Amazon [workers’] fight for unionization is a fight rooted in the history of the South’s mistreatment of its workforce, like prison chain gangs, its prisoners in work camps that are required to grow their own crops just to eat, sharecropping and so many other atrocities. The South is steeped in its inequality.
I support the Bessemer Amazon workers’ fight for unionization, for safe work conditions and better wages. Amazon will not fix this on their own. This will not work itself out through natural attrition.
The workers of Bessemer Amazon need unity through unionization.
— Wesley Massey