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Promoting Ethical Employment in the Third World

When Joe Bozich, founder of Knights Apparel, opened a factory in Altagracia, Dominican Republic, to produce licensed college apparel, he offered employees living wages based on the nation's annual calculation of the cost of living.

As a result, employees are able to feed their families well, provide proper housing, and even send their children to college. However, the factory does not break even, which has been a perennial problem for previous efforts to create "living-wage" jobs.

Typically, those efforts fail because the principals don't have enough financial resources to give them a long enough timeline to see if they will catch on; Bozich has the resources and says he is in it for the long haul. He also expects to reach break-even in 2014. His garments are marketed with hang tags that briefly tell the story of a factory worker in the hopes of creating brand awareness and appeal to fuel the experiment's success. But in the end, says Bozich in a 8-minute news video prepared for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, a source of cutting edge reporting at the intersection of faith and culture, whether the project succeeds or not depends on economies of scale, given his unwillingness to ask consumers to pay higher prices for his more ethically produced clothing.

For more on poverty and justice, see our feature article, "Baptism, Righteousness, and the War on Poverty: a 2014 Epiphany."

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