Maggie’s Announces Unique Sewing Co-op
By Mic LeBel
Maggie’s Organics is proud to announce a project that will improve the lives of garment workers in Nicaragua. Maggie’s is partnering with a foundation that will have initial ownership of a newly constructed sewing facility. Workers will acquire ownership over a five-year period. “We hope this project will serve as a model of social responsibility for companies doing business in third world countries,” said Maggie’s President Bená Burda. Over the last decade, the garment industry has been moving overseas, often exploiting workers in sweat shops where they must toil long hours in dangerous conditions to earn enough wages to survive.
“By providing work in the form of contracts for sewing, we will be enabling this group of workers to gain foundation funds and local bank loans to form a co-op,” said Burda. The sewing co-op will be located 20 miles outside of Managua, in a village entirely devastated last year by hurricane Mitch. The region’s infrastructure, what little there was, is gone. As a result, daily survival has become a constant struggle. Many of the women in the area have since been forced to travel to free-trade zones to work in sweat shops where the daily wages are below subsistence.
The project will provide an opportunity for men and women displaced by the hurricane and victimized by “the system” to work closer to their homes, using skills they already have. By establishing ownership in the co-op, the project will improve the standard of living of the workers and allow them to have some control of their lives, rather than toil endlessly in sweat shops.
“In addition to the sewing contracts Maggie’s will provide, we are working with other companies who share our business ethics to expand this plant even further,” said Burda. Though a fraction of the total garment industry, Organic clothing sales are growing and Burda is excited about the possibilities of the entire endeavor. “This supports our mission of having significant impact on the lives of our customers and suppliers, as well as affecting pride in craftsmanship and quality,” added Burda.
The site for the facility has been cleared and the building is under construction. Completion is slated for later this fall. Production of Maggie’s garments should begin by early to mid-2001.
The project promises to bring to fruition a longtime goal of Burda’s. Maggie’s is a staunch supporter of fair trade, responsible business ethics, as well as environmental stewardship. The company operates in a close-knit community with farmers, yarn mills and garment assemblers across the U.S. and offshore to produce their goods. “Developing relationships with people who work in the mills and sew our garments is one of the unique things about Maggie’s,” said Burda. “Their stories, families, and lives enrich ours, and we’re blessed with a customer base that believes all of this is important,” added Burda.
Since 1992, Maggie’s has made comfortable, affordable, and durable clothing from the most environment-sustaining materials and methods. Maggie’s makes a wide range of clothing and accessories from Certified Organic Fibers including: Socks, Camisoles, Underwear, Nightshirts, T-shirts, Dress Oxfords, Gloves, Aprons, Tote Bags, Sheets, Bedding & Baby Clothes.
Maggie’s products are sold around the world in natural product and specialty stores, as well as on their webpage. For a complete online catalogue and information about all of Maggie’s Organic products, please visit the company website at www.organicclothes.com or call (800) 609-8593.
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