We filed a lawsuit against the “Apparel Task Force” on April 1, 2009. Since we are not a corporation or a non-profit charity group, just an officially registered UH student group, we had to put file the suit in one of our members names. The suit is captioned O’Brien v. Alderman, 2009 – 20328, and its in the 280th Judicial District Court in Harris County.
This morning we handed out 300 flyers at the People’s Law school, which is a program that Richard Alderman, on of the five faculty on the Task Force, has run for quite a while to pump up a populist image of himself. Earlier blog posts can describe what happened the last time we passed out flyers back in October, 2008.
Here’s the text from our flyer that hopefully recounts the whole story. Feel free to email or call us with any questions (contact info on our “About” page).
BE CAREFUL ABOUT TAKING
LEGAL ADVICE FROM
“THE PEOPLE’S LAWYER”
WHY? STUDENTS ARE SUING HIM!
Here’s the skinny: In the spring of 2008 the U of Houston “shared governance” system which is the faculty, student and staff governing bodies decided unanimously to affiliate with the Worker’s Rights Consortium. The WRC is an independent third party labor monitoring organization that almost 200 top universities belong to. The shared governance system also agreed to sign on to the Designated Supplier Program. The DSP is a proposal by the WRC and the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) to address working conditions in the apparel industry for the workers who sew collegiate apparel.
Well, UH President Dr. Renu Khator actually couldn’t wait until the shared governance ran its course, shortly after the student government signed off on the WRC and the DSP she appointed 5 unqualified (in that they never published on any relevant topic, labor, globalization, marketing, social responsibility, etc.) faculty + 1 staffer and 1 student and called it the “Apparel Task Force.” So in April 2008 the task force invites us, the UH Students Against Sweatshops to give a presentation about the issue and we videotaped it. Then in July, 2008 the Apparel Task Force released their final “report” (actually more of a press release since the 5 faculty did not show any scholarship, not even one footnote) claims that we, the students said we said our presentation (and that we already pushed through student government and by this time both the faculty and staff agreed) that there would “…Likely will be little impact from joining WRC or the DSP.” Even though we’ve been pushing the DSP and the WRC for more than two years, and have tons of paperwork from 2 prior UH presidents to prove it, and in this case VIDEOTAPE OF THE ENTIRE PRESENTATION, the People’s Lawyer and his cronies had to throw a big fat lie in their no scholarship “report.” Now of course as you might expect Dr. Khator is ignoring the shared governance and won’t sign the DSP (although we did force her to get UH to affiliate with the Worker’s Rights Consortium, making us the first in Texas to do so. Yea! – power to the people!)
Of course that’s a ludicrous lie about our campaign and Richard Alderman, the people’s lawyer, drafted most of the final report, probably because he was the only LAWYER on the task force and since he’s the “People’s Lawyer” he should “know his rights” and know that he can be held accountable in a court of law. (we did public info requests to get all the emails between task force members, that’s how we know Alderman did the dirty work). Anyway we asked the Apparel Task Force chair Steven Craig (an economics prof) in writing about 3 or 4 times to remove the false statements about us and he refused. About ten days ago we even met with Mr. People’s Lawyer and instead of removing the false statement, the Richard Alderman offered us a bribe: Here’s the email he sent us:
From: Alderman, Richard M <RAlderman@central.uh.edu>
Date: Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 2:42 PM
Subject: RE: deadline pending act now – U of H factory disclosure PROVES SWEATSHOP use
To: UH SAS <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is to confirm our agreement that if you delay filing suit against the UH Apparel Taskforce Committee for a reasonable period not to exceed September 1, 2009, I will either pay you $250, or hire you at the rate of $25 per hour.
The suit was filed April 1, 2009 and is captioned O’Brien vs. Alderman, 2009 – 20328, 280th Judicial District court