The Northeast has been slaughtered with snow this winter. On Sunday, a reported 16.2 inches of snow fell on the Boston area, a record amount. That’s enough to make life difficult for anyone. As a result, Boston had to shut down its public transit system completely on Sunday. On Monday, they started to run buses and trains on a limited schedule. To help get everything back to normal, the city has enlisted the public for snow removal for a generous wage. However, there are reports that prisoners have also been tapped to help, but for significantly less.
The MBTA has called on a mixture of union workers, students and others for snow removal from the tracks. They offered $30 an hour to these people, a wage that many would gladly take during these days and times. Boston has also pulled 50 prisoners. According to activist Shaun King, these men are not being paid anywhere close to what the free helpers are making. He writes:
[The prisoners] aren’t even being paid minimum wage. Hell, they aren’t even being paid what minimum wage was decades ago. Go lower, much lower. $1 an hour would 5x more than what prisoners are making shoveling snow in Boston.
They are making $0.20 per hour. Yes, you read that correctly – twenty cents per hour. In other words, those making $30 per hour are making 150x what the prisoners are making for the same work.
This pittance the prisoners are being paid for snow removal is just another entry into the long list of violations for people critical of the prison industrial complex. People believe that prisoners are the new slaves and their labor is being exploited as cheap labor to build businesses and industries.