Category Archives: Knights Apparel

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

UH admininstrator greenwashes sweat free apparel initiative

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: