The Alta Gracia East Coast Worker Tour sponsored by the United students Against Sweatshops has come to a close. It's been a crazy couple of weeks on the road, visiting universitires, meeting students, and talking with bookstore managers. We have kicked the semester off with a bang, connecting with new suporters and meeitng our long-time friends.
Alta Gracia support has been steadly growing in the past year and we are starting off our second year at 400 campuses--and our AG factory workers, Martiza Vargas and Elba Nurys have had the chance to see first hand how much support we have. It's been an emotional and exciting experience for them to meet their supporters and share their stories. They have been overwhelmed with the repsect and pride students feel getting to meet them and both woman wanted to share their experience from the tour with you...
Maritza Vargas, Secretary General of the Alta Gracia Union, and Factory Worker
For me, this tour?
I’m thankful that I’ve been able to learn and teach, get to know so many people, share ideas with them, change peoples’ minds to see things from a new perspective, and interact with so many people involved in this group effort to move the apparel industry towards an industry that gives dignified jobs to hard-working people.
It’s been so inspiring to see the energy of students at every stop on this tour. Even when we’ve been tired from being on the road visiting so many schools, we arrive and speak with them and their enthusiasm recharges us. It’s impressive that they are moved to care about people in the Free Trade Zone that they’ve never met – that they probably never will meet. We know that si se puede – yes we can change this industry. If we as workers organize from our end, if students do the same from theirs as consumers, brands will listen to the market. Bookstore managers, university presidents – everyone has a role to play in changing the industry. Everyone has a brother, a sister, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Raise your voices. Let them know about Alta Gracia and how we are transforming the industry. Alta Gracia has 133 employees, and is having a profound impact in the community. If we keep building this movement, we can have not one, but 5 factories in Villa Altagracia. Not just workers at Alta Gracia, but if workers and consumers come together, workers around the world can benefit from a living wage and decent treatment at work. Let’s keep this going!
I’m very thankful to United Students Against Sweatshops and everyone who made this tour possible. The workers of Alta Gracia will remember your solidarity always!
Elba Nurys, Union Member and Factory Worker at Alta Gracia
This tour was an important experience for me because it gave me the opportunity to get to know so many places I’d never known before, or even knew existed! It’s also given me the opportunity to meet people from many different backgrounds and share with them what it means to have a living-wage and respect at work – something truly exceptional at Alta Gracia.
A highlight was when I was able to visit my family in New Jersey, whom I hadn’t seen in more than 3 years when they were last in the Dominican Republic. All in all, it’s been a very emotionally powerful adventure around the entire US! Thanks to everyone who has made this possible – much love to you all.
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