Category Archives: meetings / events

Southwest Fair Trade convergence in Austin January 30

Save the Date!
Saturday, January 30th 2010
Austin Texas,
AFL-CIO hall @ 1106 Lavaca Street

Come and join fellow student and community activists and leaders from Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas for the 2010 USFT Southwest Fair Trade Convergence. Together we will hear panels and presentations from community activists and leaders about Fair Trade, anti-oppression, community and campus organizing, theater of the oppressed, and how YOU can take it back to your own campus and community. Bring your stories, your friends, your passion and excitement for social justice, and share as we share with you.

Everyone that registers before the 15th will receive a sweet re-usable fair trade convergence bag printed with art work and packed with goodies! The small fee will help defray the costs of the convergence, cover two meals and snacks, and the rest will go to USFT to help events like this continue to happen.

We’ve got a delicious organic and vegetarian breakfast and lunch menu planned and a day packed full of awesome workshops and speakers. In an effort to be sustainable we will be using non-disposable plates, bowls, water bottles, and utensils. Some will be provided but if you can bring stuff from home!

Thanks so much and see you on the 30th!

Learn more and Register here!

We hope to see you there!


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:

Ex – Russell Honduras factory workers to tour USA for second time

Honduran Factory Workers Will Tour West Coast Schools April 13-28, Seeking Russell Contract Cuts

United Students Against Sweatshops is thrilled to announce the second tour in the U.S. by workers of Russell’s Jerzees de Honduras factory. During April 13-28, two workers — representing the 1800 workers that Russell left jobless simply for forming a union — will travel to the West Coast to call on universities to join the growing number of schools (over two dozen) severing ties with Russell Athletic. Campuses include:

  • University of Arizona
  • University of San Diego
  • UC Irvine
  • University of Southern California
  • UCLA

The best way to keep tabs on United Students Against Sweatshops campaign to re-open the Jerzees de Honduras factory that Russell closed because the workers were union (see: WRC report on Russell\’s worker\’s rights violations)

is to surf over to the Rein in Russell blog

February 18 – free film screening with talk by main cast member Carmen Duran

Mark your calendars. On Wednesday February 18 at 7 pm in the Cullen Performance Hall we’re hosting a screening of the documentary Maquilapolis. Read up on the film on the website: Maquilapolis

Admission is free and after the screening we’ll do a Q & A with Ms. Duran. We’re bringing her all the way from Tijuana. That’s her in the picture holding the piece of electronics. Carmen Duran

Here’s some information about the film:

Carmen works the graveyard shift in one of Tijuana’s maquiladoras, the multinationally-owned factories that came to Mexico for its cheap labor.  After making television components all night, Carmen comes home to a shack she built out of recycled garage doors, in a neighborhood with no sewage lines or electricity.  She suffers from kidney damage and lead poisoning from her years of exposure to toxic chemicals.  She earns six dollars a day.  But Carmen is not a victim.  She is a dynamic young woman, busy making a life for herself and her children.

As Carmen and a million other maquiladora workers produce televisions, electrical cables, toys, clothes, batteries and IV tubes, they weave the very fabric of life for consumer nations.  They also confront labor violations, environmental devastation and urban chaos — life on the frontier of the global economy.  In MAQUILAPOLIS, Carmen and her colleague Lourdes reach beyond the daily struggle for survival to organize for change:  Carmen takes a major television manufacturer to task for violating her labor rights.  Lourdes pressures the government to clean up a toxic waste dump left behind by a departing factory.

As they work for change, the world changes too:  a global economic crisis and the availability of cheaper labor in China begin to pull the factories away from Tijuana, leaving Carmen, Lourdes and their colleagues with an uncertain future.

Spring meetings start Wed. Jan. 21, time to get involved!

The new semester is upon us and we’ve got lots to do. We’ll be meeting every Wednesday at 5:30 pm in the Salt Grass room in the UC. It’s on the second floor.

Last semester we got the University to join the Workers Rights Consortium WRC which means our school adopted a code of conduct for companies it allows to produce its logo clothes. This also means that every time the WRC issues a report about workers and their factory conditions the university gets a copy of it. The biggest issue right now is a factory Russell (who produce UH clothes) owns in Honduras. They’re going to close the factory and fire 1,800 because they tried to unionize. Read the whole report here: Jerzees report This is a violation of the UH code of conduct.

We brought letters to UH president Renu Khator twice in December about the Jerzees Honduras situation yet she refused to even write a letter to Russell or take any action about the violations of the UH code of conduct. Other universities like Miami cut their contract with Russell.

We need your help to make our campaign successful. We’re working on bringing a worker from Tijuana next month to speak to the student body. Come on out and learn how to organize, write grants, public speaking, marketing skills and much more.

Free! Sweatshop speaker event Thursday Sept 25

On Thursday night at 7 pm we’re hosting two great speakers. It’s at Cullen Auditorium. We’re bringing in Juan Antonio Solís Magaña. a worker from Mexico. Here’s some information about Juan:

“I started to work in the maquiladora industry in 1993. Now I work at Key Safety System and actually I have three years and seven months working here. This company has been exploiting workers for long time; they treat us like slaves or robots, not like workers. We use chemicals without safety equipment. There are many irregularities in the company but thanks to the workers Coalition that we formed we are been accomplishing many things….” – Juan Antonio Solís Magaña.

Martha Ojeda, founder of the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras will translate and facilitate and discuss the situation at the workers factory.

Here’s some information about Martha Ojeda: Martha has been the Executive Director of the Coalition for Justice since 1996 and is responsible for overseeing and coordinating CJM programs, to apply the mission of the organization, to promote the work of the Coalition to increase its membership, and to raise consciousness about the realities of living and working conditions on the female and male maquiladora workers on the Mexican border by attending speaking engagements.

Check out their website here: Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras

Come on out and bring a friend.

Fall semester meetings start this week

Fall semster is here. Starting Wednesday August 27 we’ll meet every Wednesday @ 6 pm in the Saltgrass room in the University Center, second floor past the reservations office. See you there.