Alta supports factory workers

Alta supports factory workers

The University of Alabama’s United Students against Sweatshops hosted the Human Rights in Global Garment Factories event yesterday. Photo Courtesy of Alessandra Delrose

Alessandra Delrose

The Alta Gracia opened in 2010 and is located in the Dominican Republic. Alta Gracia is the only clothing factory in the developing world to pay their employees a living wage according to their website.

Yenny Perez and Ednavirgen Castillo, two workers from Alta Gracia, made it their life mission to travel around the world and talk about their experience and how the Alta Gracia factory changed 
their lives.

Before Alta Gracia, there was a factory in its place called the BJ&B Factory where both Perez and Castillo worked, and both women said it was a nightmare.

“You had to get permission for everything, even for something as simple as using the bathroom,” Perez said.

For Perez, these conditions made life difficult because she was also pregnant, and conditions for pregnant women at BJ&B 
were dangerous.

“They would throw stuff at us while we worked or if we messed up. It was an emotional and physically toxic environment,” Perez said. “Many pregnant workers had miscarriages due to the harsh 
conditions at BJ&B.”

According to Castillo, when BJ&B finally closed, the company tried to leave without paying workers their missing pay.

“Thanks to the help of students and all the workers, we were able to get compensated for all of our lost time and money,” Castillo said.

Perez said once Alta Gracia opened it was a huge change. Alta Gracia not only cared about their workers, but the workers were finally able to grow as people.

“There’s an old Dominican saying that we use to describe this, and it’s the difference between Earth and Heaven, and that is exactly what this was,” she said.

AJ James, a junior majoring in microbiology and Spanish and a member of USAS, said the organization was able to get Alta Gracia clothing on campus after a year 
of campaigning.

“Last year [USAS] ran a campaign to get Alta Gracia apparel in the SUPe Store, and we won,” James said. “So now there’s a small display of Alta Gracia clothing in the 
SUPe Store.”

James said this is one step closer to the University having an apparel-safe campus.

“When students and visitors go to the SUPe Store and buy Alta Gracia, they can be 100 percent sure that it was made sweatshop free,” he said.