Privatised prisons create negative outcomes for workers, communities and detainees. They consistently lead to worse conditions, under-staffing, overcrowding and warped incentives: more prison inmates means more profits.
A number of these corporations are now cashing in on the detention of migrants and refugees - who they see as a new market opportunity.
Despite these chilling facts, many of us are financially involved in this shady industry via our banks, pensions, savings and insurance schemes.
Time to divest!
The pension funds of workers and the institutions we bank with have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in private prison companies; by directly holding corporate shares and through index and mutual fund investments.
Yet at the same time, unions are on the frontline of the fight against privatisation of prisons and other public services.
We need to lead by example by ensuring we are no longer financially connected to these corporations.
This is why Public Services International, in coalition with many of our affiliates, is launching our Pledge for Prison Divestment.
The Pledge: Our union will do all in our power to ensure the money of our members is not invested in private prisons.
To endorse the pledge, register to POP then click the endorse button at the bottom of this page.SIGN UP NOW
How can I use this platform for our union's campaign against Prison Privatisation?
POP serves as the central meeting place for union and civil society campaigners, uniting agaisnt privatisation.
Once registered, you can launch your own campaign, browse strategies and resources from other unions and support other struggles around the world!
Already signed up to POP? Endorse the Pledge now.
What unions can do
Unions in the public and private sector often hold influence over the governance and investment decisions of their members' pension funds, soverign wealth funds and the institutions they chose to bank with. Many of these funds represent the largest pools of capital in the world.
While unions might not have full control, they can play a powerful role in creating the case for divestment, building the political pressure and mobilising their members around the issue.
For some, the union might have a seat on the board, allowing for internal lobbying for divestment.
For others, it might mean researching which major national banks are involved in financing private prisons, educating members on the issue and supporting existing campaigns for divestment.
Until now the Prison Divestment movement has been mostly limited to the United States. This is why Public Services International is coordinating a coalition of unions around the world who will pledge to do all in their power to ensure the money of their members are divested from these companies.
As workers and unions we must lead the fight against prison privatisation and profiteering from pain by ensuring we are not financially supporting this repugnant industry.
Find out more about the global struggle below - and launch your own divestment campaign using our tailored People Over Profit Anti-Privatisation Campaign Builder by signing into your POP account.
The American Federation of Teacher have produced a report on two major privateers: Core Civic and GEO Group. These corporations reap billions each year by jailing minority populations and exploiting the school-to-prison pipeline. Many AFT-linked pension funds have already divested from companies such as these.
Private Prisons: Investment Risks
Prison Divestment and Unions: A Growing Movement
New York State United Teachers adopted a resolution to investigate current pension investments in prisons and to move immediately to divest from prisons.
Columbia University became the very first university in the country to divest its endowment from the private prison industry.
Oregon Education Association, representing pre-K to 12th grade teachers, passes a resolution to push for divestment of the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) from prisons and their major investors.
Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department moved to phase the use of private prisons.
President Trump, who received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from private prison companies, reverses plans to end federal prison privatisation.
The City of Seattle divests $3 billion from major prison lender and Dakota Access Pipeline financier, Wells Fargo.
New York City’s pension system becomes the first in the nation to fully divest from private prisons, dumping about $48 million worth of stock and bonds from GEO Group, CoreCivic Inc. (CCA) and G4S.
At its 2017 convention, the AFL-CIO adopted Resolution 25 that resolves, “AFL-CIO, its affiliates and state federations promote federal, state and local legislation, policies and practices that end the for-profit pipeline of correctional facilities or services.”
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) voted to divest more than $12 million from GEO Group and CoreCivic.
American Federation of Teachers ended its member benefits mortgage program with Wells Fargo for their support of the gun industry, and issued Part 1 of a follow-up report recommending Wells Fargo for divestment due to their support of the prison industry.
JP Morgan Chase agrees to stop financing the prison industry.
Wells Fargo announces it will also cut ties with the prison industry.
The Ethics board of the Norwegian state oil fund (among the largest in the world) puts G4S on a human rights blacklist, withdrawing tens of millions of dollars in funding. The board cited "“unacceptable risk of the company contributing to systematic human rights violations."