Factory Defies Sweatshop Label, but Can It Thrive?

Published: July 16, 2010

VILLA ALTAGRACIA, Dominican Republic - SITTING in her tiny living room here, Santa Castillo beams about the new house that she and her husband are building directly behind the wooden shack where they now live.

The new home will be four times bigger, with two bedrooms and an indoor bathroom; the couple and their three children now share a windowless bedroom and rely on an outhouse two doors away.

Ms. Castillo had long dreamed of a bigger, sturdier house, but three months ago something happened that finally made it possible: she landed a job at one of the world’s most unusual garment factories. Industry experts say it is a pioneer in the developing world because it pays a “living wage” — in this case, three times the average pay of the country’s apparel workers — and allows workers to join a union without a fight....