Her Campus Northeastern - By: Delia Harrington - April 9, 2012.
On Wednesday, April 1, NU kicked off Alta Gracia April on campus with a Tie-Dye Extravaganza (with live music!) from 3-5pm in the Library Quad. You can buy a white Progressive Student Alliance sweatshop-free t-shirt to tie-dye for $10 or bring your own tee to tie-dye for free. With all the momentum for HOWL (Huskies Organizing With Labor) and the fair treatment of our campus workers, it only makes sense for us to care about the workers in other countries who contribute to our Northeastern experience.
Alta Gracia makes the school apparel we collegiettes love so much—including t-shirts, hoodies and fleeces. What makes Alta Gracia different is the way they care for their (unionized!) workers. As their website says, “we pay our workers a wage that enables them to provide adequate food, clean water, clothing, shelter, health care, child care, and education for themselves and their families—a ‘living wage’—and hope for a better future.” Sadly, this is not the norm in most developing countries, and even our own minimum wage in America is not actually a living wage in many parts of the country.
In addition to living wages, Alta Gracia prioritizes the safety of their workers, with masks, fire drills and alarms, and first aid kits on site. They also invite the Works Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent workers-rights watchdog open access to evaluate their factories. While this may sound basic to us, it is out of the ordinary for most of the workers around the globe who make the clothes we love so much.
I was lucky enough to go to the Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic on the Social Enterprise Institue’s Field Study Program. I talked to workers about how they are treated there compared to with past jobs, and it is a world of difference. After seeing the factory first hand, I was happy to learn that Northeastern and Barnes and Noble College support Alta Gracia by selling their products in our bookstore.
Luckily, Alta Gracia believes that consumers shouldn’t have to choose between quality, affordable products and doing the right thing, so their apparel is priced competitively. That means Alta Gracia is taking less profit instead of charging you more! This makes it even easier to make the right choice and buy Alta Gracia!
If you want to learn more about this great model for making a profit while upholding the values of humane treatment for workers, come to a screening of Tejid@s Junt@s, Stitched Together: an Alta Gracia Documentary on Wednesday April 18th in West Village G 104 at 8pm. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker, an Alta Gracia community education representative, and workers from Alta Gracia on Skype!
To see the full details and event listings, check out the event on Facebook!