Sewing Hope offers the first account of a bold challenge to apparel-industry sweatshops. The Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic is the anti-sweatshop. It boasts a living wage three times the legal minimum, high health and safety standards, and a legitimate union—all verified by an independent monitor. It is the only apparel factory in the global south to meet these criteria.
The Alta Gracia business model represents an alternative to the industry’s usual race-to-the-bottom model with its inherent poverty wages and unsafe factory conditions. Workers’ stories reveal how adding US$0.90 to a sweatshirt’s production price can change lives: from getting a life-saving operation to a reunited family; from purchasing children's school uniforms to taking night classes; from obtaining first-ever bank loans to installing running water.
Sewing Hope invites readers into the apparel industry’s sweatshops and the Alta Gracia factory to learn how the anti-sweatshop started, how it overcame challenges, and how the impact of its business model could transform the global industry.
Alta Gracia pays a “living wage” more than three times the legal minimum wage, maintains excellent workplace health and safety standards, and has nego-tiated a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with a workers’ union — all verified by an independent labor rights organization. The standard assumption is that competitive market forces would bankrupt any employer who dared follow such practices. Alta Gracia defies this conventional wisdom — and the factory appears to be viable.