Open Letter to Construction Workers at Prisons

A letter to construction workers at Collins Bay and Frontenac Institutions.

End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) is a Kingston-based prison abolition group. We have been organizing resistance to prison expansion for the past two years.

August 10th is internationally known as Prisoners’ Justice Day, which started in 1975 at Millhaven to commemorate those who have died at the hands of the prison system. Out of respect for this day of mourning, prisoners inside refuse work and food.

This year, we intend to shut down all construction work on the grounds of Collins Bay and Frontenac Institutions in solidarity with prisoners on strike inside. We are writing to ask you to stay home from work on Friday, August 10th or – better yet – join us on the lines.

Our goal is not to antagonize construction workers who are trying to make a living and have little or no say over which jobs to work; instead, our goal is to demonstrate our solidarity with prisoners inside, and pay respect to those who have died. We believe a world without prisons would be better for everyone.

Why Not Work on Prisoners’ Justice Day?

  • Prisons and prison expansion affect us all. Under the guise of global economic crisis, we see governments responding with austerity, “tough on crime” measures and increased repression of dissent. As more people lose hope in a decent future under this current system, crime will increase and more people – particularly those most marginalized by the system – will be put in jail.
  • Prisoners are exploited by government and corporations as cheap labour. They will go on strike August 10. A major practical aspect of solidarity means not crossing a picket line; we consider crossing lines on August 10 to be scabbing.
  • We know some workers at this site have four nine-hour shifts, Monday-Thursday. If this is the case for you, working Friday is entirely optional and you cannot be punished for not working.
  • Trying to cross a hard picket with a vehicle is unsafe for everyone. It could injure protesters or provoke unpredictable confrontations. Police also tend to escalate tensions if they choose to intervene, which can become dangerous. You have the right to refuse unsafe work under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Ways You Can Help

  • If you are in a position to do so, speak with your co-workers about collectively refusing to work on Friday, August 10. There is strength in numbers and solidarity. Whether you refuse to work because it’s voluntary, unsafe, or you’re feeling sick, find a way not to come in.
  • If you are in a union, seek support from your steward and/or local. Pass a resolution at your next local meeting supporting Prisoners’ Justice Day and/or workers who refuse to work August 10.
  • If you can’t see a way to get out of working at Collins Bay August 10, email us at epic [at] riseup [dot] net and we will do whatever we can to help.
  • Join us on the lines! It will be a fun-filled day where we can extend meaningful solidarity to prisoners on strike and build our local capacity for resistance!

In Solidarity,

End the Prison Industrial Complex

Suite 409, 427 Princess Street Kingston, Ontario K7L 5S9
email: epic [at] riseup [dot] net
website: http://www.endthepic.wordpress.com

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