Workday Minnesota is a project of the Labor Education Service at the University of Minnesota, published with the support of labor organizations. Its focus is news and resources on issues important to working people.
Ezekiel “Zeke” Caligiuri remembers learning that inmate labor built St. Cloud Correctional Facility. Upon that discovery, he began seeing the walls of his cell in a different hue. Zeke observed that he “lived in a space that had been lived in for 100 years.” He grappled with the sobering reality that countless men before him had labored to sustain their own confinement and would continue to do so long after he was gone.
The Department of Corrections (DOC) has a monopoly over an inmate’s shelter, work opportunities, and medical care. Since inmates live in their workplace, their living conditions are also their working conditions.
Today, independent, nonprofit think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a study arguing that by virtually every metric, Minnesota’s economy has performed far better for working families than Wisconsin’s since governors Mark Dayton and Scott Walker were elected in 2010.
The change in hiring goals has largely gone unnoted by the press. A few contractor organizations have released brief statements questioning the reasoning or the need for the increase in goal numbers or suggesting a gradual increase.
Workers are organizing through unions and other organizations to improve their lives. Union representation provides a voice on the job and the opportunity to improve wages, benefits and working conditions.