Fair Trade and Real Food Conference @ ASU

The food sustainability movement is growing. United Students for Fair Trade (USFT) and the Real Food Challenge (RFC) Southwest Regional Chapters are partnering to bring you a weekend full of fair and sustainable food activism! Feb. 11-13 @ Arizona State University

All over the Southwest, the food sustainability movement is growing. Students are asking their campus food service providers to purchase ethical and environmentally-sound products. Activists are working to ensure farm worker rights and fair wages. In South Phoenix and other areas, community members are planting gardens to help reverse food deserts. Although seemingly disparate, each of these actions fit into the creation of a sustainable food system as a whole. In the context of the unique Southwest cultures, economies, and environments, this conference will create a space for students and allies from across the food sustainability and justice movement to share knowledge and skills, cultivate relationships, and deepen our commitment to the movement.

Registration: Click: register The $35 fee will include 5 meals, a homestay for Friday and Saturday night, a fair trade conference tote bag from Las Otras Hermanas, and more.

See complete summit schedule: schedule

For more information contact Kim: southwestcoordinator (at) usft (dot) org

Powerpoints given at conference:  Midwest

Media USFT SW 2011

Top eight salaries of UH administrators

The University of Houston administrators have no problem taking fat salaries while the workers who sew our clothes live in poverty and work in horrific conditions. Did you know how much money the UH administrators make? Well here’s some data to consider as you pay your spring tuition:

Renu Khator

Renu Khator Chancellor/President Chancellor/President $500,000

Salvador J. Loria, Scholarships & Financial Aid Executive Director, $395,200

Michael Rierson, Vice Chancellor / Vice President, University Advancement  $382,416

Mack B. Rhoades IV, Athletic Director $350,000

Carl Carlucci

Carl P. Carlucci, Vice Chancellor / Vice President, Administration & Finance Executive  $324,456

Raymond T. Nimmer, Law Dean $301,000

Joseph W. Tedesco, Engineering Dean $301,000

John Antel

John J. Antel Sr., Vice Chancellor / Vice President, Academic Affairs/ Provost,  $300,000

You can find hundreds of salaries of UH professors and staff on the Texas Tribune’s website right here.

Solidarity Trip to Mexico

Announcing Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera’s January 7-9, 2011 trip to MEXICO in solidarity with the CFO or Comité Fronterizo de Obreras/os (Border Committee of Working Women and Men). Main destination: Piedras Negras

Starting our 12th year in partnership with the CFO, this intense 3-day trip takes you into the homes and communities of women and men who work in the maquiladoras or foreign-owned factories that produce in Mexico for export to US consumers. Meet the people and hear their stories. See for yourself the impact of NAFTA, the difference between “free trade” and “fair trade” and what author Charles Bowden called “the laboratory of our future.” This is a listening expedition, an opportunity to learn how the CFO, which is a 30-year old Mexican non-profit, has used collective action to negotiate for and defend human and labor rights.

A special focus on women’s fair trade production collectives will take the delegation to Fuerza Unida (United Strength) in San Antonio and their Hilo de Justicia (Thread of Justice) project. In Piedras Negras the delegation will visit the worker-owned Dignity and Justice Maquiladora.

What connection does the piñata have with the Seven Deadly Sins? What is a Rosca bread? Find out as, never forgetting the cultural context, the delegation will celebrate The Day of the Three Kings, more exciting for Mexican children than even Christmas!

Fee: $225 includes transportation from Austin, translation, food and lodging, orientation and background information. Passport required. For more info and a registration form, please email JRosenberg@atcf.org or call Judith at 512 494-8377. $100 deposit deadline is December 18. If the cost is prohibitive, please write, since some partial scholarships are available.

(More info: Austin Tan Cerca and click here to see video clip.)

Students for Fair Trade 2011 SW Convergence!

Register now right here!

United Students for Fair Trade (USFT) and the Real Food Challenge (RFC) are partnering to bring you a weekend full of food activism from February 11-13, 2011 in sunny Tempe, Arizona! In the context of the unique Southwest cultures, economies, and environments, this conference will create a space for students and allies from across the fair and sustainable food movement to share knowledge and skills, cultivate relationships, and deepen our commitment to the movement.

The registration fee of $35 will include 5 meals, a home stay for Friday and Saturday night, a fair trade conference tote bag from Las Otras Hermanas, and all of the sessions. Register right here.

Sessions: Utilizing Media to Win Campaigns, Piloting the Real Food Calculator, Farm to Cafeteria, a Seville Orange Harvest on the ASU Tempe Campus, and more. Questions? Email Kim Pearson, the Southwest Coordinator of USFT, at southwestcoordinator@usft.org. Thank you!

The Alta Gracia story – Sweatfree Collegiate Apparel

Knights Apparel founded the Alta Gracia collegiate apparel factory in the Dominican Republic to pay the workers a living wage. Many collegiate bookstores, including the University of Houston and my alma mater for my bachelors degree, Penn State University now carry Alta Gracia apparel.

Alta Gracia display at the Penn State bookstore

Here’s another picture I took a couple of weeks ago in the Penn State bookstore:

Alta Gracia display

You can support the workers by purchasing your UH Cougar Alta Gracia clothes at the bookstore on campus or online right here.

Here’s a video about the factory:

Tim O’Brien, PhD

Ex-College Dean Charged with Forced Labor

The New York Times is reporting that ex St. John’s college dean and vice president Cecilia Chang has been charged by the Feds with forced labor and bribery. And just who was she forcing into labor? Students of course!
Chang threatened to cut the students scholarships if they didn’t perform extra duties like driving her son to the airport at 3 a.m. Magistrate Judge Joan M. Azrack set Ms. Chang’s bail at $1.5 million.

We’ll spare you the jokes about a one of America’s leading Catholic Universities being embroiled in this scandal because lousy working conditions are nothing to wisecrack about. Here’s the complete story in PDF format: Ex Dean charged with forced labor NYT 9.30.2010 And here’s a link to the story on the Times’ website.

Cecilia Chang

Poor labor conditions and forced labor conditions are nothing to joke about. If you want to get involved in the fight against poor labor conditions, join forces with Sweat Free Houston we meet every first Sunday from 7-9 p.m. at 1303 Ruthven Street. That’s in Fourth Ward adjacent to Midtown. Give us a call at 832.771.7263 if you are ready to get involved or have any questions about our work.

Sweatfree clothes @ UH Bookstore!

You can now buy sweat free collegiate apparel at the U of H bookstore on the main campus in the University Center! Yes it’s true! This is the Knights Apparel initiative that we blogged about earlier. The brand name is Alta Garcia

When we existed on U of Houston campus from Fall 2007 until Spring 2009 we did a lot of great stuff, including winning our campaign to get the University to join the Worker Rights Consortium.

We forced the University to become the first school in Texas to do so. We also demanded that they stock Alta Garcia apparel when their factory opened in the Dominican Republic. Now that time has come and Alta Garcia clothes are in the bookstore.

Alta Garcia is an experiment in apparel manufacturing because it pays a living wage. See their  website here to learn how they “pay our workers a wage that enables them to provide adequate food, clean water, clothing, shelter, health care, child care, and education for themselves and their families–a “living wage”—and hope for a better future.” Also they don’t “charge more for the clothing than other major brands and your purchase makes an enormous difference in the lives of the people who make the Alta Gracia clothing you wear.”

What are you waiting for? Vote with your dollars so we can get all the rest of the clothes that are made in sweatshops out of our bookstore!

Get involved by clicking here!