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Human Rights in the Garment Industry: Alta Gracia Workers Speak at University of Houston

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Wednesday, October 9, from 3:00pm-5pm at University of Houston, Agnes Arnold Hall (room # TBA here).

Union leaders from the Dominican Republic will be arriving at the University of Houston Wednesday to talk about Alta Gracia, an apparel project that pays living wage (more than three times what workers are paid in the Dominican Republic’s “Free Trade zones“).  With this wage, workers can support families, access nutritious food, clean water, livable homes, education and start their own businesses. Workers at Alta Vista have a democratic voice on the job, health care, and safety protections, all regularly verified by non-profit watchdog Worker Rights Consortium.

Those who attend the event will learn about the movement for a “salario digno,” a dignified wage and the historic struggle for fair working conditions in the Dominican Republic Free Trade Zone.  While the Dominican Republic promotes it’s Free Trade Zones as “special zones, campuses, industrial parks or compounds that offer a number of special benefits to the occupants,” those who attend the presentation will have the opportunity to hear about the reality experienced by workers in their own words.

Nikala Asante

Local organizer Nikala Asante got involved with United Students Against Sweatshops because she believes that, “paying workers only enough to meet their basic survival needs is a form of slavery, and all slavery is wrong.”

This summer, she traveled to the Dominican Republic to visit Alta Gracia, the only living wage garment factory on the island of Hispaniola. While there, she saw how, “making enough money can really transform people’s lives. Most of the workers at Alta Gracia are single mothers. Now that they are paid a living wage, they are able to send their children to good schools, build houses, and even start their own businesses on the side. As a single mother myself, it brought me great joy to see these women able to make their dreams come true.”

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