Local jobs should stay local

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by CKNJ Editorial Board

Campbellsville Apparel has a government contract to make T-shirts for U.S. soldiers. That contract accounts for 115 of the company’s 173 employees.
The local factory is the second in Kentucky to face a challenge from a competitor that doesn’t play by the same rules.

Federal Prison Industries, which is run by the federal government, wants to do the work using prisoners for labor, and that would put 115 local workers in the unemployment line. Campbellsville Apparel pays its employees an average of $11.80 per hour, and also provides benefits. The prisoners who could take their jobs would be paid between 23 cents and $1.15 per hour. Competition is fine when there’s a level playing field, but this is anything but level.
People become prisoners after they are convicted of a crime and allowing these local jobs to be taken from our community would be the commission of another crime - stealing the jobs of hardworking people who are trying to make an honest living during a time when it’s almost impossible to find a job in the first place.
If the local jobs are lost, it will mean families may not have food on their tables or a roof over their heads.
As for the prisoners, if they don’t get the work, it will have no effect on them. They will continue to live on the tax dollars we are already paying for prisons to operate and life will go on as usual for them.
In the case of the other Kentucky community, FPI backed down and did not bid on the work, thus saving jobs. We can only hope that happens in this case.
If FPI doesn’t back out of the bidding, however, there is still hope.
Support for Campbellsville Apparel is coming from the local level, including Ron McMahan, executive director of Team Taylor County, all the way up to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who support the effort to save Campbellsville jobs.
Residents can do their part by writing elected officials and sharing their opinions.
Write State Sen. Jimmy Higdon at 702 Capitol Ave., Annex Room 204, Frankfort, Ky., 40601. Write State Rep. John “Bam” Carney at 702 Capitol Ave, Annex Room 413A, Frankfort, Ky., 40601.
Contact information for other state lawmakers is available at www.lrc.ky.gov/legislators.htm.
Letter writers can contact McConnell at 317 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20510.
Contact information for other U.S. Senators is available at www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.
Those interested can contact U.S. Representative Brett Guthrie at 308 Cannon H.O.B., Washington, D.C., 20515.
Contact information for other U.S. Representatives is available at www.house.gov/representatives.
An online petition is available at www.wewearreform.org.