Alta Gracia @ Temple University

By Bridget Quint

Students for Responsible Business (SRB) and Temple Students for Fair Trade teamed together with the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association (TUGSA) and Temple’s own Alta Gracia intern to set up a meeting with Jim Hanley, the Temple University bookstore manager to discuss the potential for growth of Fair Trade clothing products in the university bookstore from the Alta Gracia brand (Fair Trade manufacturing plant located in the Dominican Republic). At the meeting, we presented Hanley with Thank You cards and friendly petitions for carrying more Alta Gracia on campus that were signed by over 100 Temple students as a follow-up to nationally renowned anti-sweatshop activist, Jim Keady’s presentation to Temple University’s Business Ethics students.

The outcome of the meeting was a commitment to bring in more advertising for the Alta Gracia brand, with emphasis that buying Alta Gracia products means support for fair trade and a living wage for workers, as well as commitment to rearrange the floor plan of the bookstore to place the Alta Gracia clothing racks in a more central location so the brand will be more visible to students waiting in line. This commitment is for the back-to-school week in January 2012, when the bookstore experiences a busy season with longer waiting times for students to notice and learn about the strategically located Alta Gracia products. Future meetings are being planned to talk about introducing Fair Trade food items and small products to the bookstore, too! Along with bright advertising to promote Fair Trade awareness and encourage Temple students to choose Fair Trade certified products when available.

At the meeting, we also learned that Temple University is the #1 seller of Alta Gracia products of all Barnes & Noble college bookstores in the nation. Additionally, Temple University ranks at #11 of the top 20 sellers of all college bookstores in the country. These statistics come straight from a letter from Knight Apparel (owner of Alta Gracia brand) to the Temple University bookstore as of November 9, 2011.

So what IS Alta Gracia? “Alta Gracia is a new brand of t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies on college campuses all over the country that offers students, their families and alumni the opportunity to give the workers who sew this clothing a pathway out of poverty” (Alta Gracia website). Their idea is to pay workers a wage that enables them to provide adequate food, clean water, clothing, shelter, health care, child care, and education for themselves and their families. In other words, Alta Gracia pays a “living wage” without charging more than other major brands, while having a direct positive impact on the lives of Alta Gracia workers and their community.

Key pillars of Alta Gracia’s labor code:

1. Pay more than three times the standard industry wage to each worker, a “living wage,” and enough to make sure that workers can feed, clothe, house and educate their families.
2. Respect the rights of the people who manufacture Alta Gracia clothing as workers as well as human beings with rights to a safe and healthy work environment, to form a union and to be treated with justice and respect.
3. Receive verification by the Workers’ Rights Consortium (WRC) to verify compliance with these standards through on-site monitoring of the factory in the Dominican Republic.

Alta Gracia products have affordable price points for college students, offer a vintage, worn-in, or classic style of collegiate wear and promote human rights, Fair Trade, and global dignity. So please consider supporting and purchasing more Alta Gracia products to show the university that we demand higher standards on our campus, especially during this holiday shopping season.

For more information on Alta Gracia, please feel free to contact Maria DiGeorge, Temple’s Alta Gracia intern at tuc59053@temple.edu. For more information on becoming a part of Temple Students for Fair Trade, please contact Bridget Quint (bridget.quint@temple.edu) or Dakota Scholl (Dakota.scholl@temple.edu).

Click here to visit the Alta Gracia website.

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