Alta Gracia Update

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To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova
Date:January 22, 2019
Re:Alta Gracia Update

I write with an update concerning developments at Alta Gracia. As you may know, the company temporarily suspended production last week at its Dominican Republic factory, after a prospective investor unexpectedly withdrew its offer to provide growth capital for 2019.  However, Alta Gracia’s leadership informed us on Friday that the company had secured substantial new capital and planned an immediate resumption of operations. The Alta Gracia factory union confirmed that workers have been called back to the factory and resumed work this morning. Alta Gracia has issued a detailed announcement concerning these developments, which you can read here.

I am pleased to report that the company’s approach to labor rights, and to its partnership with the factory’s union, has been the same during its response to this recent challenge as it has been throughout the brands’ existence: scrupulous adherence to applicable labor standards and a strong focus on protecting the well-being of the workforce. Temporary suspensions of production are not a rarity in the garment industry, or in the Dominican Republic specifically, but they are usually unilateral actions by management without the consent of workers and with little regard for the human impact. In Alta Gracia’s case, the suspension was a joint plan of the company and the union, arrived at through negotiation, and broadly supported among the workforce as the best way to navigate the challenge the brand was facing. The WRC consulted closely with both the company and the union leadership as the plan was developed. The suspension began on January 14 and lasted eight days. As noted above, everyone was back at work this morning.

Alta Gracia continues to be the only verified living wage apparel brand in the university market – and, indeed, in the overall apparel industry. For this reason, the brand’s success carries great importance in the broader effort to protect worker rights and achieve living wages for the world’s garment workers. The WRC recognizes Alta Gracia’s unique accomplishments and its vital role, and we were heartened to learn from the company’s leadership that it has weathered this recent storm and emerged with renewed strength.

We will continue to play our role as monitor of Alta Gracia’s compliance with its living wage commitments and with university standards.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or thoughts about this update.

Scott Nova
Executive Director
Worker Rights Consortium

nova@workersrights.org