30 state prison employees were notified they will lose their jobs as Missouri-based Keefe Group takes over providing hygiene products to inmates. The jobs affected are in Jackson, Ionia and Kinross.
Inmates purchase toiletries through kiosks and the orders are processed at the three regional warehouses in Michigan before being shipped to the prisons. This new contract will eliminate the warehouses in Michigan and the products will be shipped directly from Keefe Group in Missouri. There are no cost savings for the state by signing this new three-year contract with Keefe Group.
The 30 employees will have the opportunity to apply for other positions in the prison system. AFSCME director Nick Ciarmitaro told the Detroit Free Press they were looking into the reason for the outsourcing, because the purchasing system currently operating for the prisons is in the black.
The state plans to sign the contract with Keefe Group very soon. Once that happens, a 90 day transition period will begin to close down the warehouse distribution in Michigan. Prison inmates will have to wait for their ordered goods to come from Missouri.
If the warehouse purchasing system was a financial drain on the state, it would make sense to close down the regional stores. The only reason for this new contract at the moment appears to be the opportunity to put more Michigan union employees out of work, and provide jobs Michigan needs to another state.
Keefe Group is owned by Centric Group, a St. Louis, Missouri, company that is part of the Jack Taylor Enterprise Rent-A-Car fortune.