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AAFA welcomes DOD bill; use of prison labor
25
Jun '11
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) applauded the introduction of the Department of Defense (DOD) Textile and Apparel Procurement Fairness Act (H.R. 2312), legislation that would level the playing field for government contractors who outfit American servicemen and women by limiting the government contracting preference currently enjoyed by federally-incarcerated inmates. The legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Walter Jones (R-NC) and Representative Larry Kissell (D-NC).

“Swift passage of the DOD Textile and Apparel Procurement Fairness Act will create opportunities for job creation within the U.S. textile and apparel industry,” said AAFA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “As we explore every option to create and sustain jobs in the United States, our government should not put the employment of federal inmates over the employment of hardworking taxpayers.”

“The legislation would impose a much needed cap on federal prisoners' ability to seize contracts from private sector industry,” Burke said. “Representative Jones and Representative Kissell heeded the call of an industry eager to contribute to the protection of our troops and to the growth of our economy. I look forward to working with Congress and educating our elected officials about the need to quickly pass this legislation.”

In 2010, the U.S. military spent more than $2 billion on uniforms, camouflage, training gear, and combat footwear for U.S. servicemen and women. Nearly $140 million of that business went to convicted felons in 24 federal prisons around the country under the auspices of Federal Prison Industries (FPI), a government-run program that puts inmates to work while in prison.

The DOD Textile and Apparel Procurement Fairness Act would limit FPI's market share to a strictly-enforced five percent preference and give much needed work back to private industry. AAFA estimates the cap would invest more than $40 million dollars in private sector industry to spur job creation, innovation, and support for the U.S. Armed Forces.

Without this legislation, FPI will continue to enjoy an unbridled preference when it comes to unfairly claiming federal contracts to outfit U.S. troops, including a preference over businesses that employ blind and disabled workers. As a result, domestic manufacturers, and the hardworking taxpayers they employ, lose valuable market share – and jobs – to federally incarcerated inmates. Last year, FPI posted a $36 million profit in their apparel and textile business alone.

American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA)

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