Support the right to organise:

Boycott Colgate Palmolive

The Missouri Prisoners Labour Union (MPLU) is initiating an international boycott of all products produced directly or indirectly by Colgate Palmolive. This is in response to their failure to support the Missouri Prisoners Labour Unionís campaign for a minimum wage for all Missouri Prisoners, abolition of all forced labour and abuse perpetrated by the Missouri Department of Corrections and the State Government, and Colgate Palmoliveís active involvement in persuading the State of Missouri Legislature to impose a moratorium on all executions in the state.

In a letter to Colgate Palmolive, MPLU National Communications Officer Michael Lee stated, "Let me reassure you that neither myself or anyone directly associated with the MPLU has any intention of causing physical harm to either Colgate Palmolive employees or property. Our tactic is to simply fold our arms and turn a blind eye to your products."

The letter goes on to reiterate what MPLUís elected leadership stated in their April letter to Colgate Palmolive "...we realise that your company didnít put us in prison, but Colgate Palmolive [is] reaping immense profits from our incarceration and you have a social obligation to us. The situation I am outlining is the same argument organised labour has used to oppose sweat shop labour employed by Kathy Lee Gifford, Nike, etc. I would also like to add that we are not asking for anything from society except that we be treated in a fair manner as defined by the United States Constitution and numerous legal cases. We are not advocating a cushy lifestyle but simply a fair dayís pay for a fair dayís work and a safe, non-abusive work environment."

The MPLU is a 500-member organisation, which was created by prisoners and supporters. It was legally chartered by the State of Missouri in 1998. MPLUís aim is to better the living and working conditions of Missouri prisoners in particular and two million US prisoners in general. In its own words, it "provides a much-needed political forum from which to promote the principles of social justice, economic and political issues confronting Missouri Prisoners and workers. Our commitment to non-violence has been demonstrated continuously. One of the linchpin principles of the MPLU is that there is nothing more powerful then a worker with arms folded, refusing to pick up tools or perform any labour. Since our inception, members have been subjected to all forms of abuse and

harassment propagated by the Missouri DoC. On February 17, 2000 President White-Bey was finally released from Administrative Segregation (the hole) after being confined there for almost two years. His offence was simply to advocate that as workers we have the right to organise and the Human and Civil Rights of Prisoners must be respected. Presently several of our members still remain in the hole and are subjected to daily abuse. But the Union rolls on! In this campaign are calling for a moratorium on the continued use of the death penalty. If the State has such a tremendous power then it has the power to perpetrate any abuse on our membership simply for demanding a fair dayís pay for a fair dayís work. Continual use of the death penalty is a human rights violation and an ineffective manner in which to combat anti-social behaviour. For the first time in history, prisoners who do not face the ultimate punishment are calling for a moratorium on its use. We do so as part of our social responsibility as an organisation of economic self-defence and in defence of the human and civil rights of all prisoners. As of July 1, 200 we are requesting that all prisoners and their family/friends, MPLU members and our supporters to non-violently decline to purchase Colgate Palmolive. In support of our efforts we have requested that all members of organised labour, peace and social justice activists and the NAACP to also refrain from purchasing Colgate Palmolive products until at such time our demands are met." From The Barricades!

Mike Lee, On behalf of Raze the Walls!

Until the walls are razed, the creation of solidarity both within and across them is both the least and the most we can do. The mass industrialisation of prisons, whether private or state-owned, is creating an army of doubly-exploited people and the ruthless punishments handed out to those who resist within and without demonstrate how we are all just a step away from a different kind of hell. Consumer boycotts will not change the fundamental nature of the system but simple acts of solidarity like this, done in a mass way, can bring relief and amelioration to those who suffer intensely in the way MPLU members have and continue to do. Think about it, the next time you buy a simple bar of soap.