During Pandemic, Universities Continue Support of Living-Wage Jobs

Despite the tremendous challenges facing colleges and universities during this back-to-school season, dozens of schools have chosen to leverage their mask procurement and licensing choices to support living-wage jobs by sourcing from Alta Gracia Apparel.

University support of Alta Gracia’s move into mask production this spring has been crucial in maintaining the factory’s ability to continue providing living-wage jobs to Dominican workers. University of Connecticut and Georgetown University are among the schools that have procured significant numbers of masks for use by the campus community from Alta Gracia. Notre Dame, University of Florida, and a number of other WRC affiliates have also supported Alta Gracia through mask procurement and licensing.

Alta Gracia workers report that the factory’s continued operation and the living wage they receive, in sharp contrast to the severe economic impact experienced by so many garment workers during the pandemic, has meant that they are able to continue supporting their families.

Maritza, who has worked at Alta Gracia for five years, reports that when the pandemic began, everything suddenly felt chaotic, and she felt panicked. She was initially nervous about returning to work, but she is rigorous about precautions. “We don’t want our factory to close, and we know this is what is happening at other factories,” she says. “These university orders support our family economy.” 

Elba, who has worked at the plant for 11 years, says that “it has been a blessing to have work during the pandemic. I am grateful that we have had enough orders because this has meant that the factory continues to operate, and I can cover my family’s expenses.”

In this difficult time, Alta Gracia continues to stand apart in its commitment to a living wage and dignity on the job. The WRC encourages universities to partner with this unique licensee.