Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign relied on low-wage prisoners at an Oklahoma women’s facility to make campaign calls to California, The Intercept reports.
The Bloomberg campaign hired ProCom, which runs calls centers in Oklahoma and New Jersey, to make their campaign calls. The company hosts two of its Oklahoma call centers in state prisons. Women incarcerated at the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center made calls to California voters for the campaign, even though they themselves are legally barred from voting.
The women were required to add a disclaimer that the Bloomberg campaign paid for the calls, but they were not required to disclose that they were calling from a prison.
The company told The Intercept that it pays $7.25 per hour. The Oklahoma Corrections site says inmate salaries are capped at $20 per month, though the company said the workers made far more.
Bloomberg cancels contract:
“The use of prison labor is the continued exploitation of people who are locked up, who really have virtually no other opportunities to have employment or make money other than the opportunities given to them by prison officials,” Alex Friedman, the managing editor of Prison Legal News, told The Intercept.
The Bloomberg campaign said it was unaware and canceled the contract.
“We didn’t know about this and we never would have allowed it if we had,” said campaign spokesman Julie Wood. “We don’t believe in this practice and we’ve now ended our relationship with the subcontractor in question.”
Friedman said that it was “entirely possible” they didn’t know about the arrangement “but that’s like saying department stores making clothes in southeast Asia don’t know that 5-year-olds are stitching together their soccer balls. Well, shouldn’t you know? Shouldn’t you have some idea of your supply stream, or what your downside supply stream is doing?”
Bloomberg says report “fundamentally accurate:
“Earlier today, a news outlet reported that prison workers were being used by a subcontractor to make telephone calls on behalf of my campaign,” said in a statement. “I’m not attacking the news: the story was fundamentally accurate.”
“We only learned about this when the reporter called us,” Bloomberg added, “but as soon as we discovered which vendor’s subcontractor had done this, we immediately ended our relationship with the company and the people who hired them.”