Living Wage and its Impact

You may hear the term “living wage” thrown around. But what does that mean and how does it impact people’s lives?

The concept of a living wage is straightforward: it means paying workers enough so that they can provide their families with food, clean water, clothing, housing, energy, transportation, child care, education, and health care.

Alta Gracia pays the workers who make its clothing more than three times the minimum wage for apparel workers in the Dominican Republic (338% of the minimum, to be exact).

How do we know this wage is enough to support a family?  Because the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labor rights organization, calculated what it costs in the Dominican Republic (where our factory is located) to provide an adequate standard of living for a family—food, clothing, shelter, education, heath care and transportation. Read the WRC’s living wage study (PDF).

When workers at Alta Gracia received their first living wage paychecks in April of this year, the WRC interviewed some of them on camera. Here is what the workers had to say about what a living wage means to them and their families:

How it Affects the Workers

The people who make Alta Gracia garments receive wages and benefits that enable them to provide for all of life’s necessities, including their own health and well being and that of their families.  Here are some of the changes you help them make in their lives when you buy an Alta Gracia tee- or sweatshirt: 

  • Food for the family: enough healthy food and for kids, no more going to bed hungry at night.
  • Education: not only the required books and school uniforms for their kids, but the chance for parents to go back to school on weekends to pick up their educations where they were forced by poverty to abandon them, often in elementary school.
  • Health care: the ability to get some for the first time.
  • Livable Homes: the means to buy cinderblocks to replace the scrap-wooden walls of their modest one-room houses or to add another room.
  • Climbing out of debt:  paying back money they were forced to borrow just to feed their children during the many months they had no jobs.

And you don't have to take our word for it. The Workers Rights Consortium, an independent watchdog organization, has verified the entire process and will monitor it on a regular basis and issue public reports.
With your purchases, Alta Gracia will be able to provide a pathway out of poverty and hope for the future to even more people in the Dominican Republic town of Villa Altagracia, who will earn a living wage making clothing for American college students.