A well-known drug rehabilitation foundation is using its patients in Texas and Louisiana for what critics call “slave labor.”
The Cenikor Foundation said the workers’ pay goes to offset the cost of their participation in a two-year work-rehabilitation program.
“It’s the closest thing to slavery,” said Logan Tullier, a former Cenikor participant who worked 10 hours a day at oil refineries, and laying steel rebar in 115-degree heat. “We were making them all the money.”
Working so many hours a day leaves little time for rehabilitative programs, the article noted.
Ethan Ewers said the courts ordered him to complete Cenikor’s program and he worked 43 days straight unloading cargo containers in oppressive heat. After working so many days in a row, he was too tired to go to meetings or groups.
“I said, ‘You need to give me a day off because I can’t do this anymore,’ “Ewers said he told Cenikor brass. “It was absolutely ridiculous.”
Cenikor charges less than temp agencies and its staff members get incentives to work the clients long hours. The more money staff brought in, the bigger their bonuses, the research revealed.
Some of Cenikor’s patients are working up to 80 hours a week, not seeing any of the money and at risk for injury and other health issues, according to the article. One worker died of job injuries in 1995.
Bill Bailey, Cenikor’s chief executive officer, earned more than $400,000 in 2017. theadvocate.com reported he repeatedly declined requests for comment. But in a statement, Cenikor officials said the work provides “a career path for clients to be hired by companies who traditionally do not hire those with felony convictions, allowing them to return to a life of being a responsible, contributing member of society.”
Fewer than eight percent of those who entered Cenikor graduate from the program, and therefore never receive a job that pays, the article noted.
Cenikor insists that they follow all state and federal laws.
However, the Supreme Court ruled in 1985 that work- ing for free in a nonprofit — even one with a rehabilitative purpose — was a violation of federal labor law.
According to theadvocate. com, research has found that many drug rehab programs throughout the country have become “little more than lucrative work camps for private industry.”