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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Students against sweatshops

Note: This is a comment I posted regarding UH student protest. Take action. Copy and paste the email and send it to Chancellor Khator.

I prefer to believe protesting university students have their hearts in the right place to break the cycle of sweatshop labor and university business practices. They are right in that no matter how far those sweatshops may be from Houston, America's universities and students can become unwitting participants in the cycle. I wish you well, but I believe your "phone bomb'" February 25 delivery will likely fall short. Students, after, "asking their administration" and "having exhausted every diplomatic and legislative avenue" now, you hand a script to students to "please tell Chancellor Khator" and "demand that UH listen to students". What the UH protests (and, organizations such as, United students Against Sweatshops) reveal is the resourcefulness and willingness of Nike and other business, whether for economic or humane interest, to change their practices is not shared by Chancellor Khator.
Unless my information is outdated I find it peculiar none of the many universities in Texas were represented in the student delegation which conducted its investigation of New Era Cap in Alabama last month. This is even more bizarre given that Texas is number one! It's number one among apparel states for the highest number of displaced apparel workers.
Here's my recommended course of action. The Chancellor insists on doing business with known sweatshops. Fine. Lets see UH Chancellor Khator demonstrate her support for the citizens of Houston. A local (at-home) Independent Enterprise Network membership with its wealth of Knowledge, Skills and Experience in apparel production is every bit as capable as an overseas (or domestic) sweatshop to produce every apparel item purchased by students and public in support of UH. IE-Network members can partner as easily with the UH campus store as any independent apparel retailer. These network members are the same parents who continue to struggle to put their children through elementary, high school and university since the outsourcing of apparel manufacturing more than 200 thousand jobs ago.
IE-Networks are not a government program or pittance for the poor. Nobody dictates to them whom they sell to or buy from nor for how much. They are independent. They are as capable of producing apparel for the campus store as neighborhood retailers as well as athletic uniforms for school districts.
This course of action is not about the University of Houston or its students. It's about the people of Houston who live there and support the Chancellor, students and the university. Now, it's the university's turn to support the people.

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