Sweatshop-free clothing is here!

By Sarah Knispel

After a year of campaigning, collecting signatures, emailing and phone-calling, MPIRG’s Economic Justice task force finally brought Alta Gracia clothing to the Highlander store. My dear friend, Ronit Zemel, wrote an op-ed piece about Alta Gracia in the November 11 issue of The Mac Weekly. Personally, I’ve already forgotten everything that happened before J-Term, so let me refresh your memory. Alta Gracia is an incredible apparel company in the Dominican Republic that pays its workers a “living wage” – at three times more than minimum wage, that’s enough for workers to provide adequate food, clean water, health care, child care, and education for themselves and their families. The people who make clothes for this unique company can begin to climb out of poverty. Alta Gracia is also known for its safe and comfortable working conditions that set it apart from the garment industry’s sweatshops. I find myself pondering a lot of heavy material at Macalester. Everything is a social construct – and society sucks. We analyze failing public policies and capitalist greed, and in two of my classes this semester, we’ve been discussing how even human rights can be oppressive, insensitive to non-western cultures and practically ineffective. But Alta Gracia gives me a little hope. A group of people decided that sweatshops were not something they wanted in the world. So they made a change. It’s just one small company, but it’s making a huge difference in the lives of its workers and their families. I’m really proud to go to a school that cares about labor rights. MPIRG is hosting an Alta Gracia kick-off event on Tuesday, February 28 from 5-6 in CC 215. During the hour, we’ll be Skyping with a worker! Hit it up, and head down to the Highlander and buy yourself a sweatshirt. Get one for your mom, and that friend from home who goes to Carleton. They are wonderfully soft, they cost the same amount as any other sweatshirt in there, and you can sport your Alta Gracia sweatshirt with a sense of self-righteous satisfaction. I know I will. Solidarity forever! refresh –>