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On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh-based Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights issued a report titled Dressing Babies in Sweatshop Clothing: Dallas Cowboys, Ohio State and a Creepy Business, in which it alleged that the Cowboys are having team-branded clothing made in "gross sweatshop conditions at the Style Avenue factory in El Salvador." The report insists that workers -- most women, some working round-the-clock shifts -- are being paid about a dime to sew garments for toddlers that retail for around $15, and that they're doing so in horrible conditions: in a locked compound where temperatures routinely top 100 degrees and where the drinking water's contaminated, and where bosses constantly berate them ("I don't get it. Why can't this old son-of-a-bitch hurry up. You're shit. You're like a mule").
The report follows a New York Times story from September concerning student protests over a proposed deal that would allow the Cowboys' merch-making affiliate, Silver Star, to manufacture branded clothing for Ohio State University. Silver Star was launched in March, when it was announced the Cowboys would be making and selling clothes on behalf of USC; Jerry Jones Jr. heads the operation, along with Cowboys Merchandise Ltd. chief operating officer Bill Priakos. But the United Students Against Sweatshops chapter at Ohio State is demanding that school stay away because of allegations like those made in Wednesday's report.
But the Cowboys are insisting the report's false: Thursday morning I asked Brett Daniels, a team spokesman, to comment on its contents. Late yesterday, he sent the following statement from Priakos:
"We are extremely disappointed to see our company misrepresented again in this area. These allegations are completely erroneous and have no basis in fact. We do not, and have never, utilized the Style Avenue factory in El Salvador for the production of any Dallas Cowboys or Silver Star merchandise. We take corporate responsibility very seriously at Silver Star and having certain third parties continuously make false accusations is very troubling. We hope that the people who spread this false information are held accountable for their actions as well."