Task Force Created to Study Apparel Issues at University of Houston

Group will explore concerns raised by students against sweatshops, recommend solutions

The University of Houston (UH) has formed a task force to evaluate avenues to ensure that its licensed apparel is manufactured in accordance with the labor code of conduct embodied in the university's licensing contracts.

The seven-person task force is chaired by Steven G. Craig, professor of economics, and includes faculty, staff and student members.

The group, to be known as the Apparel Task Force, will examine principles and implications associated with positions that could be taken by UH related to the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP), and any other relevant apparel issues within the context of federal and state laws. Further, the task force will review actions taken by other universities in addressing these matters. Subsequent to full consideration of findings, the task force will recommend appropriate actions and specific statements to UH President Renu Khator.

"The University of Houston shares the students' commitment to ensuring fair wages and decent working conditions for the workers who produce university-licensed merchandise," Craig said. "While UH is not a member of the WRC, the university's current practices embody the same spirit and commitment to workers' rights. This committee will review the facts and choices facing workers throughout the supply chain, the practices of the firms supplying UH, and the choices facing consumers here in Houston."

In addition to Craig, faculty members of the task force are Richard M. Alderman, Dwight Olds Chair of Law and director of the Consumer Law Center; Jim Granato, professor of political science and director of the Center for Public Policy; Saleha Khumawala, professor of accounting, Bauer College of Business; and Harrell Rodgers Jr., professor and chair of the department of political science.

The student representative is Stephan Quezada, speaker, Student Government Association. The staff representative is Keith Kowalka, president of the University Staff Council.

"The University of Houston and the Students Against Sweatshops group share many goals that can only be accomplished by working together in a collegial manner," Craig said. "The university welcomes the support and advice of the student organization as an important part of UH's effort to evaluate how best to protect the rights of workers who produce university-licensed apparel."

The Apparel Task Force hopes to complete its inquiry and make recommendations to President Khator by June.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.