Sewing Hope

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.


University of California Press:
Link: https://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520292925


Author Bio:

Sarah Adler-Milstein is a worker-rights advocate and has served as Field Director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Worker Rights Consortium.

John M. Kline is Professor of International Business Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is the author of four books, including the textbook Ethics for International Business. 


Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap “This inspiring book provides a blueprint for changing how our clothes are made. It provides engaging stories of workers, managers, activists, and business executives along with rigorous analysis of how one factory defies the 'race to the bottom.
'”—Danny Glover, actor, director, and activist

“A highly readable and engaging look at a new model for making social justice and profits integral parts of the way business is done. Adding doing good to the bottom line, this book is instructive and inspiring in showing how worker rights and a successful business are not mutually exclusive. You will find yourself cheering on the unlikely cast of characters who made this anti-sweatshop possible and learning strategies for applying their innovative approach to other industries.”
—Ben Cohen, activist and cofounder of Ben & Jerry’s

“The Alta Gracia apparel factory is changing the lives of its workers with dignified, unionized work and a living wage, while demolishing some of the most destructive myths about how the global economy is supposed to work. Far from being merely another example of corporate do-goodism, this is the moving story of how an unusual coalition came together to pioneer bold, scalable solutions with the power to transform our world.”—Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything


About Alta Gracia:
Alta Gracia was founded in 2010 in the Dominican Republic as the only apparel company in the developing world that is independently certified in paying a living wage. This wage, which is independently audited by the Worker Rights Consortium, a non-profit independent labor rights monitoring organization, and negotiated with the local union, is over 300% higher than the legal minimum wage and 2.5 times higher than the industry average. At Alta Gracia, the living wage is based on a market-basket analysis looking at the cost of local goods and services in the Dominican Republic.

Alta Gracia products are primarily sold in College Bookstores and Campus retailers across the country, with products in over 600 doors with rights to over 1000 schools. Major customers include, Barnes and Noble, Follett, Fanatics and a number of Independent schools including Duke, Berkeley, NYU, UCLA and others.

John Kline - Alta Gracia Research Project
The Alta Gracia Research Project Georgetown University
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.
Buy Alta Gracia. The best thing you can do to #changelives is buy AG college tees & hoods and support the workers who make them, as well as your campus Bookstore - Next time you're buying AG in your bookstore, make sure you thank them for carrying LIVING WAGE APPAREL from Alta Gracia!
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Alta Gracia Apparel is a groundbreaking new clothing line produced at the first-ever apparel factory in the developing world to pay a living wage and demonstrate full respect for workers rights. (learn more)