Strike Roundup Day 1: Texas Prisons Shook by IWOC Initiated Strikes

Strike Roundup Day 1: Texas Prisons Shook by IWOC Initiated Strikes

CONTACT: Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), a committee of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), 816-866-3808, iwoc [at] riseup.net.

April 5, 2016

Houston, TX — Today, in a historic action, members of the Industrial Workers of the World’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) shook Texas prisons with strikes in seven prisons.

According to Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials as of 7:45pm on Monday (4/4), three prisons remain locked down (Wynne, Mountain View, Lynaugh)–on strike–while 3 others were but are no longer on lockdown (Torres, Polunsky, Roach). Robertson Unit officials refused to report in the evening and is therefore almost certainly still on strike/lockdown as they were when they confirmed earlier in the day.

Any information from TDCJ officials must of course be taken with a grain of salt, as the main office has been denying strikes and lockdowns all day. Concealing the strike as lockdowns is a strategy known by both prisoners and wardens.

A March 23rd letter from an IWOC Texas in-prison organizer notes that prisoners were given “reliable information” that authorities would use lockdowns “to create the public perception that we are locked down for administrative purposes and not because of the Texas Work Stoppage.”

At stake is the future of slavery in America, and the human rights of the more than two million prison slaves, including more than 143,000 in Texas. Prisoners in Texas are paid a minimum wage of $0.00/hr. Their labor is making Texas billions of dollars and “outsourcingjobs to US companies.

“Slavery is a horrifying institution,” said Nicholas Onwuke, IWOC Co-Chair and former prisoner. “Violence is the last gasp of an evil system against people standing up, demanding their dignity. It took mass struggle to end historical slavery and Jim Crow, so will it to end prison slavery today.”

Demands specifically mentioned by the prisoners include objective timelines for release on good/work time, an end to a $100 medical co-pays that prevent access to health care, an independent grievance committee, and an end to a vast array of human rights abuses. Texas prisons lead the nation in sexaul assault of inmates and have seen a spree of overheating deaths due to lack of air conditioning.

From the March 23rd letter–“We need as many freeworld people as possible to contact the media and inform them that that [‘administrative lockdown’] is not the case and that we are in fact locked down as a direct result of our workstoppage.”

You in the free world. This is your time for action. Spread the mass movement in prisons to the free world. Stand with Texas prisoners: call, act, donate, or get involved.