The University of Houston and its UH logo are proud symbols for the thousands and thousands of UH graduates and students who live and work in Houston. Because of UH we were able to work, go to school and obtain a first-rate university education. None of us will ever have to work in a sweatshop.
However, this is not true for some of the workers who make our UH logo clothes. We know that for many universities, their logo clothes are made in sweatshops around the world where workers toil 60-80 hours per week and suffer the worst exploitation imaginable – harassment, intimidation, unsafe and unhealthy work environments and exposure to toxic substances on a daily basis. This is no secret and should surprise no one.
What can UH do about this? The first thing that UH can do is affiliate with the Worker Rights Consortium for $1,000 a year.
The WRC is a non-profit organization created by college and university administration, students and labor rights experts. Its purpose is to assist in the enforcement of manufacturing Codes of Conduct, designed to ensure factories producing clothing and other goods bearing college and university names respect the rights of workers.
More than 175 college and universities are already affiliated. WRC affiliation will help keep UH abreast of the "good" factories where UH can source its clothing.
Secondly, UH logo clothing customers will also have to pay 25 cents more per item to help ensure that workers receive a living wage with healthy working conditions. This is money well spent.
UH’s President Renu Khator wants to hear from everyone, according to the First 100 Days campaign. How about listening to our own Harris County AFL-CIO Council? This UH graduate wants to see his alma mater do the right thing for workers and for our community. UH needs to lead by example and do its part for these workers in sweatshops. I want to continue to be a proud Cougar! Affiliate with the WRC and keep our UH logo sweatshop-free.
Richard C. Shaw
UH Class of 1969