DE SAM LAZARO: Joe Bozich founded the Knights Apparel company in 2001 and built it into the largest maker of licensed college sportswear. These shirts are made in a tiny corner of the Knights empire: a factory called Altagracia that pays people like Manuel Guzman a living wage. Unusual does not begin to describe the factory where Guzman works in the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean nation of nearly 10 million, where unemployment exceeds 15 percent. The factory atmosphere is relaxed, the music is loud.
MANUEL GUZMAN: (through translator) There is no pressure here to produce all the time. People come here to train us, lawyers have taught us our rights. Also, we have a union that protects us.
DE SAM LAZARO: Maritza Vargas is the union steward.
(to Vargas) Are the wages sufficient?
MARITZA VARGAS: Si.
DE SAM LAZARO: Yes, she responded. Wages are based on the cost of living for a family of five, calculated by the country’s central bank and adjusted every year for inflation.
VARGAS: (through translator) For me the most important thing is that my children have been able to go to school. I even have my oldest daughter in college.
DE SAM LAZARO: For Manuel Guzman and his wife, Digna Martinez, his job at Altagracia has meant a healthy diet.
DIGNA MARTINEZ:(through translator) He was jobless for nine months, and we have four kids who don’t understand when you tell them there’s no milk, so it was difficult. This is such a blessing.
Although this sounds like a dream world Joe Bozich is attempting in the Domincan Republic what some people consider impossible in the United States: run an sports apparel company on a humane and generous ethic.
He's up against many things - profit, workers rights, and America's hunger for cheap goods. I desperately hope he makes it. It will let all of us know that capitalism doesn't have to be predatory in order to be successful...