Shop with a Conscience Consumer Guide
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Alta Gracia is a factory in the Dominican Republic established after a long struggle with multinational corporations for union rights and sustainable jobs in Villa Alta Gracia. The workers are unionized and earn a living wage—more than three times the national minimum wage. Alta Gracia t-shirts and hoodies are available at universities around the US and custom-printed by Ethix Merch, which also wholesales a variety of other union-made merchandise such as headwear, bags, mugs, pens, stickers, and calendars. www.ethixmerch.com
“My dream is for workers in free trade zone sweatshops around the world to achieve what we’ve won here at Alta Gracia.” – Maritza Vargas
Ceres, Desde el Pie, and Püporé are worker-owned cooperative factories in Argentina. When the economic crisis hit Argentina in 2001 and capital fled the country, it led to the closure of hundreds of businesses and masses of factory workers were left unemployed. Ceres, Desde el Pie, and Püporé are three of the cooperatives formed by workers in the aftermath. No longer relying on bosses, the workers themselves have become the owners. The factories make canvas and leather shoes, blouses, and buttoned shirts. Order from www.theworkingworld.org. Desde el Pie’s leather shoes also available from www.traditionsfairtrade.com.
“We treat the middle man (us) as nothing more than a tool to connect human producers and human consumers. And everything on this site is made by people who run their own democratic businesses. This is a story we are writing together, in real time: the story of the solidarity economy.” – The Working World
Dignidad y Justicia is a worker-owned ethical clothing manufacturer and wholesaler formed by the Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s, a worker center in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. The sewing shop was established by and for garment workers who were dismissed from their jobs after standing up for their rights in sweatshops producing for large U.S. apparel corporations. The women produce t-shirts, sweatshirts, and tote bags in organic and conventional cotton, and determine their own wage rates and terms of employment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to place an order.
“What I notice most are the differences in schedules and wages, and that here we don’t have a boss that orders you or punishes you… I feel that now I am somebody. I can make decisions together with others about what we are going to do.” – Alma Leticia Puente
Donnelly/Colt is a two-person home business formed in 1975 that is committed to social justice and sells US union-made t-shirts, buttons, stickers, posters, postcards, and mugs. Order at www.donnellycolt.com
Maggie’s Organics is involved in every stage of production, from purchasing its own organic cotton and organic wool, to helping with the formation of worker-owned cooperatives in the US and Central America. The company sells a variety of casual apparel, including socks, leggings, shirts, dresses, and scarves. Order at www.maggiesorganics.com.
"Developing relationships with people who work in the mills and sew our garments is one of the unique things about Maggie's. Their stories, families, and lives enrich ours, and we're blessed with a customer base that believes all of this is important." – Bená Burda
Thread of Justice / El Hilo de la Justicia, is a sewing collective that is part of Fuerza Unida, a non-profit founded by garment workers who lost their jobs in 1990 when a Levi’s plant in San Antonio, Texas, closed and left 1,150 workers without jobs and just severance pay. This collective is an alternative model for social, economic and environmental justice that nurtures leadership development and business opportunities for women. They sell guayaberas and custom-made Jeans with Justice. To order, contact 210.927.2294 or email@example.com.
“Sometimes when Fuerza Unida goes to marches and conferences, I go with. When I came here to work, I was coming to work as a seamstress. After I arrived here, I got educated. I've learned that I have many rights that can't be taken away from me. I learned to defend myself and to help the community.” – Rebecca Herrera
“Many people go away because they won't pay what we need. We lose customers because of that. We’re not a sweatshop. We’re trying to have a place where we work with respect and dignity.” – Viola Casares
For a complete list of wholesale shopping options, see our Wholesale Sweatfree Shopping Guide
EthixMerch.com wholesales union-made headwear, bags, shirts and more. They can do custom screen printing, embroidery or direct digital printing for your Local, organization, or company. Order online at www.ethixmerch.com or call 877-709-3845.
Sources of products: Alta Gracia in Dominican Republic; New Jersey Headwear in Newark, New Jersey; Lifewear in Pottstown, Pennsylvania; Union Line, Inc./Graybear in Chicago, Illinois.
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