The American Apparel & Footwear Association called on the 2016 presidential nominees to commit to end the U.S. government’s reliance on uniforms made in U.S. prison factories.
AAFA sent letters to candidates Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and Donald Trump to commit to the elimination of Federal Prison Industries’ (UNICOR) mandatory sourcing requirement if elected president. The letter also asks for a prohibition on UNICOR’s current ability to compete as a small business even though it employs more than 12,000 inmates with an annual revenue of nearly $500 million.
“UNICOR’s government-mandated advantages in the marketplace continue to create problems for American business enterprises, leading to lost U.S. jobs, closed U.S. factories, and U.S. manufacturers going out of business,” said Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of AAFA. “The U.S. government rightly prohibits the importation of goods manufactured by prison laborers, but then turns around and buys hundreds of millions of dollars from local U.S. prison factories. This duplicity and double dealing must cease. We need to put America’s workers first and stop the federal reliance on prison labor.”
“We all want more Made in USA opportunities — but we cannot create more Made in USA jobs when those opportunities are eliminated by competition from U.S. prison factories,” Helfenbein stated.
UNICOR is a U.S. government-owned complex of federal prison factories that produces products in the U.S. and promotes them as American-made. UNICOR has key advantages over private industry, including a mandatory sourcing requirement that requires the federal government to give contracts to UNICOR for any products the company is capable of manufacturing and allowing UNICOR to compete for contracts set aside for small, women-owned, veteran and disadvantaged businesses once it exceeds a 5 percent market share in a product category. Clothing and textile sales account for 59 percent of UNICOR’s annual earnings.
The letters from AAFA to the presidential candidates, along with information on UNICOR and its business practices, can be found here (Clinton, Johnson, Stein, and Trump). AAFA asks the candidates to respond by August 31, 2016.