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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
Jose Rangel is the Associate Vice Chancellor / Vice President for Legal Affairs and Deputy General Counsel at our University. Rangel also graduated from the University of Houston in 1975. Unfortunately for anyone who wants make the University of Houston a better place, particularly a place that values the contributions of all staff and contract workers on our campus, Mr. Rangel is not very helpful. In fact Mr. Rangel actively works against students like us who volunteer their time to work in solidarity with workers who supply our University with logo clothes, serve us food, or clean our classrooms.
We don’t mean to single out Mr. Rangel for his personal liability in furthering the oppressive conditions that our University engages in on a daily basis. It’s just that Mr. Rangel has been particularly unprofessional in his dealings with students advocating for workers rights. The post below has three video tapes that demonstrate Mr. Rangel’s thoroughly unprofessional behavior.
We thought it would be helpful to point out the huge gap in pay between Mr. Rangel and a UH custodian. Currently, the University pays custodians as little $6.56 an hour! You find that data right on the Houston Chronicle webpage where they are advertising for a UH custodian position: custodian opening UH On the other hand, Mr. Rangel pulls down a yearly salary of $177,699 which at 52 weeks a year and 40 hours a week works out to $85.43 an hour.
We’re not saying that Mr. Rangel is a selfish individual only concerned with himself, because we never engage in personal attacks. However we think that there is a possibility that Mr. Rangel has a hard time empathizing with the custodians and food service workers on our campus, many whom make minimum wage.
If you think that Mr. Rangel should behave a little better, then by all means call him or email him. His phone number is : (713) 743-0949 and his email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, if you pay taxes, Mr. Rangel works for you!
This afternoon three of our members had a few quick errands to run on campus. We had to do some banking, we needed to add our fall meeting time to our banner, and then we had to go by the university general counsel’s office to set up a time to view some documents per a request that our member Brendan Laws made. We also had to pay $40 for another public information request. The Texas Public Information Act is really useful because it allows citizens a way to look at documents created by the government. Click here for a quick primer: Texas public info.
Anyway it was just another routine day on campus for a few activists. However as is often the case at the University of Houston, where they make up new laws everyday, the most mundane task can turn into an ugly incident of oppression of happy go lucky students.
It was about 1:45 when we walked toward the lawyers office. We came upon Leslie Pruski, (secretary to Dona Cornell, the general counsel) in the hallway. She asked who we were here to see and we told her Valerie Coleman-Ferguson, one of the lawyers on staff. Pruski went into the office and told someone. A woman came out and we told her the same thing. She told us to wait, which we did. We sat for around 15 minutes. Now bear in mind all we had to do was give them $40 cash and get a receipt and go. Another woman passed through the reception area we were waiting in and we asked her to check on things. She returned and told us they were checking on the law and would get back to us. They had to check on the law to see if they could accept cash? But wait it gets better. Then still another woman came out and showed our member Tim a receipt and took his $40, but instead of letting us have the receipt she said she had to take it and photocopy our money and our receipt.
So we waited another ten or fifteen minutes. Except now Brendan was going to be late for work because it was 2:30 so we went ahead and went into the hallway where the offices are and the video above shows what happened.
It’s important to note the the lawyer in this video, Mr. Rangel, is not just having a bad day, he has a bad day everyday students are around on legitimate business. For review and contextual purposes, below are two more videos showing Mr. Rangel acting unprofessional and ignorant. We think this accurately reflects most UH staffer’s attitudes towards students or at least the ones that we’ve encountered over the years of our activism.
Its also important to note that our group is primarily made up of working class students. We mention that because we had to buy this expensive video camera and we must continually buy tapes for it just to protect ourselves. Its bad enough that they jack up the tuition every year, but it is just ridiculous that we can’t do the simplest errand on campus without having these folks go beserk on us. This idiotic behavior of staffers just makes us use up more film and more time documenting it.
And here’s another one from this year:
Emily Messa, assistant vice president for university services has been involved in a major greenwashing campaign at the University of Houston for some time now. First let’s define the terms. Merriam Webster dictionary defines greenwashing as “expressions of environmentalist concerns especially as a cover for products, policies, or activities.” Remember that Ms. Messa and the University of Houston’s main reason for existence is to ensure profits for corporations.
UH Students Against Sweatshops has been working for two long years on our campus to bring ethical garments to our school. Recently, as our previous post (see below) details, Knights Apparel released a letter to the affiliates of the Worker Rights Consortium. The letter contains details about a project Knights is working on to manufacture collegiate logo apparel in a socially responsible way. We got our school to affiliate with the WRC back in November 2008.
We requested a short meeting with Ms. Messa to discuss how UH could take part in this unprecedented opportunity. For example, Duke university made a commitment to purchase $250,000 worth of apparel from Knights Apparel to show their support for socially responsible garments. See: Duke to buy $250,000 in sweat free apparel
Instead of taking thirty minutes to meet concerned students, on June 5, 2009 Ms. Messa had her office issue a press release that is full of inaccuracies. Here’s the press release: Apparel (click link and you come to another page, then click link again) For example, the press release claims that “… by associating with the WRC the UH bookstore…” Now we’re to believe that the UH Bookstore (run by Barnes and Nobles) is a member of the Worker Rights Consortium! Actually only universities and schools can be affiliates of the WRC, see the list of affiliates on their website.
When we went to Ms. Messa’s office on Monday June 8, she refused to come out and speak with us. So as you see, UH is all about trying to make corporations look good, not about actually doing anything themselves like top tier school Duke did by making a quarter million dollar commitment to purchase the sweat free clothes. No, Messa and the rest of the corporate flunkies who run UH are only interested in getting money for their corporate masters.
Click the link to see the video of our appointment request:
Unfortunately for Ms. Messa and other immoral UH administrators of her ilk, we never stop fighting for social justice. In fact we and / or our allies make house calls. Last Saturday June 6 Students for Fair Trade stopped by Ms. Messa’s house on similar social justice causes to ours. See the Students for Fair Trade website for details on that house protest: SFT Messa house protest
Here’s one of several videos of the Students for Fair Trade in action at Emily Messa’s house:
Posted in crooked adminstrators, Emily Messa, Knights Apparel, meetings / events
Tagged Barnes and Nobles, DSP, Emily Messa, ethical threads, house protest, Knights Apparel, Students for Fair Trade, sweat free apparel, Worker Rights Consortium
Last Friday afternoon November 7 six USAS members were handing out flyers in front of Cullen Auditorium. President Renu Khator was having a ceremony called an investiture. Apparently her $500,000 plus salary (it actually comes to more than $700,000 with all her benefits) is not enough, so she must have big ceremonies to show everyone how important she thinks she is.
Anyway while two of us were holding a banner that said “Khator ignores student concerns,” Marie Martinez, Khator’s secretary stood directly in front of us apparently trying to block our sign from the view of the faculty members who were marching into the auditorium in some kind of ass kissing parade. One of our members said, “Do you have to stand right in front of me?” and that’s when Ms. Martinez slapped him.
Wednesday morning our member filed a criminal complaint with the University of Houston police department. The cops tried very hard to convince him not to file charges and even said they couldn’t give him a copy of his own complaint! They relented and gave him a copy. We’re hoping that Ms. Martinez will have to pay a fine. Stay tuned for the further adventures of USAS at the University of Houston.
Richard Alderman is a faculty member at the University of Houston’s law school. For many years Mr. Alderman has been pushing a populist image of himself as the “People’s Lawyer.” He writes a weekly column for the Houston Chronicle, the only daily paper in the fourth largest city in the country. He also appears on channel 13 Houston’s ABC affiliate.
Earlier this summer Mr. Alderman took part in a scam on the University community and all taxpayers that was known as the “Apparel Task Force.”
Here’s a quick history: Back in January we got our student government to unanimously pass a bill to join the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC, a third party non-profit labor monitor made up of students, college administrators and labor rights experts with 181 university affliates: WRC ) and to sign the Designated Supplier’s Program, (DSP a proposed solution that would designate factories who meet basic labor conditions the right to make university licensed apparel) our president / chancellor Renu Khator set up an appointed “apparel task force” with 5 profs (none of whom ever published on labor rights, sweatshops, corporate responsibility or other related field) 1 staffer and 1 student. We gave a presentation to the “task force” (which they conveniently scheduled at the end of the semester when our college paper stopped publishing) where we laid out the facts and messaged DSP as the solution. We of course video taped our entire presentation and you tubed it.
In the apparel task force’s “report” which documents we obtained revealed Alderman drafted, the task force members claimed “Students Against Sweatshops said that the there likely will be little impact from joining WRC or the DSP.” We of course took issue with their blatant lies and asked 3 times in writing for them to retract and correct their falsehoods. They refused. Read their “report” Task Force report
So this morning we passed out over 300 flyers to attendees of Alderman’s “People’s Law School,” at the U of H law center. Read the flyer: alderman-flier-revised
Well Mr. Alderman and one of his associates were none to happy that we would stand on a public sidewalk and exercise our first amendment rights. Here’s what happened:
Bright and early a couple of us stood outside the law school and handed out the flyers. Everybody thought we were part of the program and gladly took a flyer. One campus cop was sitting in his car nearby. After about 10 minutes a well dressed middle aged man confronted one of our members (we think he was a law professor too) and said what we were was doing was “wrong,” and that our member was “insane.” We just replied we’re standing up for workers rights. He took issue with that and said that we were “vilifying” the people’s lawyer who does so much to “help people.” We replied yeah unless they are garment workers or students working to improve labor conditions. The unknown white male asked what the size of the lawyers house had to do with anything and we said we thought it demonstrated how the people’s lawyer was all about taking for himself and not giving back. Then the unknown white male stomped off in a huff. We thought our flyer comparing wages and living conditions of the People’s Lawyer and UH garment workers in Bangladesh would make these white males more aware of their privilege. It certainly got their attention. Interestingly enough one attendee later told me that us she asked if they would help her fill out a complaint for small claims court and they told her no they didn’t do that. So it seems that the whole event is just an opportunity for lawyers to troll for clients.
A few minutes later the “people’s lawyer” himself came up to us with the campus cop (who of course knows us well) in tow. About that time two more cop cars rolled up. Then Mr. People’s Lawyer claimed he tried to help us. We said lying about our campaign and the DSP doesn’t help anyone. Then he trotted out the tired excuse that no one signed the DSP! We said 45 schools have and that he could look at the WRC’s website and see for himself. Then he slipped up and said that he was “Trying to stop the school from signing the DSP,” he had read the DSP letters from other schools! In a polite as tone as possible we said “We don’t have to listen to you and please get away from us,” and continued to hand out fliers. Mr. People’s Lawyer didn’t know what to do and then the cop said to him “What do you want to do?” Mr. People’s Lawyer said its OK. I guess ordering a cop to arrest students for passing out fliers would have been too much for the people’s lawyer to live down later. Then we told him if he wanted to speak to us he could make an appointment. He didn’t like that too much and stomped off.
Tell the People’s Lawyer to stop fronting for a corrupt UH adminstration and tell the truth about the university and their oppression of garment workers: You can email him here: email@example.com or call him at his office: 713.743.2227.