Reminder: WRC Trip to the Dominican Republic, Participation Welcome
Below, please find a note regarding the upcoming WRC study tour to the Dominican Republic. The trip will run from May 12 to May 18. We are resending the invitation in case there are interested individuals who have not yet responded and to let you know that we will be finalizing the list of participants shortly. If you would like to participate in the May trip, please let us know as soon as possible.
I would like to invite you to participate in a labor rights study tour to the Dominican Republic to visit apparel factories and meet with garment workers, factory managers, unions, non-governmental organizations and local labor rights experts. The tour will include an opportunity to meet with workers who sew products for Alta Gracia Apparel and to tour the facility where production is taking place.
The tour will run from Thursday, May 12 to Wednesday, May 18, 2011 (inclusive of travel to and from the Dominican Republic). A truncated itinerary will be available for people who cannot get away for a full week. This truncated itinerary will return people home on May 16.
This Dominican Republic tour is part of an ongoing series of overseas trips for administrators at WRC affiliate universities and colleges. The purpose of these tours is to afford administrators who are leaders at their institutions on code of conduct matters the opportunity for hands-on engagement with local stakeholders and local labor rights issues. Countries visited on previous tours include Thailand, Cambodia and El Salvador.
The full itinerary will include meetings and factory tours in Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, and in nearby locales, including the town where the Alta Gracia factory is located; a trip to Santiago, a hub of apparel production several hours by car to the North; and a trip to the Haitian border, including a visit to a free trade zone immediately across the border in Haiti. The truncated itinerary will omit the Santiago and border portions of the trip.
Below, you will find more detailed information about the study tour, including a tentative itinerary, an outline of costs for participants, and background on the Dominican Republic. If you have questions or would like to discuss the possibility of joining the tour, please contact me or my colleague Theresa Haas or by phone at the WRC office. People who wish to participate in the tour are asked to notify us as soon as possible.
We hope you will consider joining us.
The WRC has an extensive network of relationships with civil society organizations around the world and we currently employ field staff in seven countries. The goal of these overseas trips is to provide opportunities for administrators from affiliate schools, who are leaders on code of conduct issues, to take advantage of the WRC’s resources and to hear from workers, factory managers, and labor rights leaders what it is like to be “on-the-ground” in places where university apparel is produced.
The Dominican Republic has long been an important supplier of university logo apparel and is currently the site of a significant amount of ongoing code enforcement work. Our meetings and factory visits will provide useful insight into working conditions and labor rights issues in this country, which are similar in important ways to conditions throughout the global apparel industry, but where workers also face challenges particular to the Caribbean context. As you know, the Dominican Republic is also the site of production for Alta Gracia Apparel, the ground-breaking new apparel brand. During the trip, we will have the opportunity to visit the factory where production is taking place and meet with workers who sew this apparel.
Travel Logistics and Trip Itinerary
The tours will include five days of meetings and factory visits in Santo Domingo, Santiago, and along the Dominican/Haitian border, with two days for travel to and from the US.
Participants will fly to Santo Domingo, arriving no later than the evening of Thursday, May 12. There are direct flights to Santo Domingo from New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami and Fort Lauderdale . Participants from most other locations in the US and Canada should be able to fly with one-stop through one of these gateway airports. Total travel time for people flying direct will be between two and four hours. For people changing planes, flight time will be between four and eight hours. When reviewing departure and arrival times, it is important to know that Santo Domingo is on the same time as East Coast time, i.e., if it is 5pm EST, it is 5pm in Santo Domingo.
The trip will end in the city of Santiago, a hub of apparel production, which is located several hours by car from Santo Domingo. Rather than returning to Santo Domingo at the end of the trip, most participants will want to fly home directly from Santiago, taking advantage of non-stop flights from Santiago to Miami and New York. For those wishing to fly back from Santo Domingo, transportation will be arranged.
Participants have the option of arranging their own flights or working with the WRC’s travel agent. All other aspects of the trip – hotel reservations, airport transfers, travel to and from meetings, meals, translation, etc. – will be coordinated by the WRC.
Anticipated Itinerary for Dominican Republic Study Tour
Thursday, May 12 – Leave U.S. and arrive in Santo Domingo in the afternoon or evening
Friday, May 13 – Visit to Alta Gracia factory, lunch meeting with Alta Gracia workers, followed by a tour of the local community; dinner with NGO leaders in Santo Domingo
Saturday, May 14 – Visits to the homes of Alta Gracia workers; meetings with apparel workers from other factories in the area
Sunday, May 15 – Meetings with NGO leaders, union leaders and labor rights experts in Santo Domingo; in the afternoon, free-time and optional organized historical tour of Santo Domingo
Monday, May 16 – Visit to another university apparel factory; travel to Santiago; meet with workers and NGO/union leaders in Santiago
Tuesday, May 17 – Drive to the Dominican/Haitian border, visit the free trade zone located just over the border in Haiti; meetings with free trade zone workers; drive back to Santiago
Wednesday, May 18 – Depart Santiago or Santo Domingo for U.S.
As indicated in the itinerary, there is a half-day set aside for sight-seeing in Santo Domingo. Of course, participants will also be welcome to add days at the front or back end of the trip for personal travel. The WRC staff will be happy to assist with logistics and recommendations.
The approximate cost per person for the entire trip will be approximately $2,500 including airfare, hotels, meals, ground transportation, visa costs, and an administrative fee. The major variable is airfare, which will depend on the point of origin and fare availability. For people opting for the truncated version of the tour, the overall cost will be about $500 less.