StaffAllpar HomeMore NewsCarsTrucksUpcomingRepairsTest drives

Digging debunks prison-labor hoax

by David Zatz on

Some readers have sent us stories alleging that FCA or Chrysler has been using prison labor.  Allpar sought to find out whether this is true.

Prison labor is increasingly controversial due to abuses, including pushes for draconian sentences by those who profit from it.  A judge has been bribed to send people to prison, for example. Wikipedia lists other abuses (also see this secondary page).

prison-bars

Allpar has investigated each article, digging into the source of Facebook posts and web pages. In some cases, the trail ran dry, with the claim made and no evidence provided. Much of the time, the sites are referencing each other in a never-ending loop of hearsay. In others, after digging through numerous references, we found the source was a Buycott boycott list which included Chrysler.

Allpar asked Buycut to explain why Chrysler was on the list. Buycott did not respond, but did remove the Chrysler reference — and, for good measure, their link to their source.

prison-labor

Before Buycott cleaned their page, we had already found that the allegations came from a single article by Bob Sloan on DailyKos.  This story, posted six years ago, did not implicate Chrysler or FCA in the use of prison labor, but only as a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Mr. Sloan said that ALEC had written and lobbied for laws “authorizing and increasing the use of inmates in manufacturing of products as well as the housing of those inmates by private corporations.”  ALEC has increasingly pursued a social agenda, as well.

GM, Chrysler, and Ford were listed as ALEC funders, which was partly true in 2010, when the article was written.  An FCA spokesman told us that Chrysler dropped its membership in 2008;  GM left in 2012, and Ford dropped out in 2016.

kos

Allpar wrote to every site claiming that Chrysler or FCA was using prison labor, asking for substantiation or a correction. There were no replies from any of the sites.  In the end, the situation is similar to accusations that Chrysler had dropped dealers based on their political contributions: quickly and thoroughly debunked, obviously false, yet still “on the record.”

After we provided our findings, an FCA representative wrote:

FCA believes that the creation of long-term sustainable value for all its stakeholders is rooted in the respect of fundamental human rights. Therefore, the Company is committed to respecting fundamental human rights and basic working conditions in all its operations and promotes these principles within its sphere of influence. As such, FCA rejects any suggestion to the contrary.

The Company’s guidelines regarding human rights can be found at  http://www.fcagroup.com/en-US/sustainability/FiatDocuments/LG_Human_Rights.pdf

Part of the FCA policy is “Fiat Group does not tolerate the use of forced or mandatory labour.”

Allpar’s search did not find any factual references to the use of prison or slave labor by Chrysler or FCA in the last fifty years, except for some allegations regarding Beijing Jeep, which is now part of Daimler-Benz.

If nothing else, this story-of-a-nonstory is a cautionary tale about cut-and-paste accusations. It usually takes little time to debunk a hoax or outrageous claim, but few actually do it. Email chains grow longer and more outraged, but fact-checking is clearly absent — most claims evaporate by typing the name of the claim and the word “hoax” into a search engine. People seem to believe what they want to believe, and baseless accusations become reality through repetition.

In the end, it was Allpar which got Chrysler off the Buycott.com boycott list and made the world slightly more honest.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


Mopar’s first PHEV wins Ward’s
portal - journey crossover replacement
Windsor, AWD, and the mysterious CUV

How’s ProMaster doing?

More Mopar Car
and Truck News

Some popular Allpar pages





Dodge Demon

2018 Wrangler JL



Staff details/contactsTerms of ServiceInformation is presented to the best of our knowledge. Plans change and sometimes mistakes are made. Decisions or purchases made based on this site's verbiage or images are done at the reader's own risk. Also see the Allpar News archives, 1997-2008 • Copyright © 2008-2017, Allpar LLC. All rights reserved. • Mopar, Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, HEMI, and certain other names are trademarks of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.