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'O-H-I-O! Dallas Sweatshops have to go!'

UWEEKLY @ OSU |  By Angie Quach | November, 30 2011 |  Share  | Source Article

Students protest OSU's negotiations with Dallas Cowboys over licensing agreement

Guess Michigan is beating us in more than just the football field. "We won't let (Michigan) beat us on the football field, and we certainly won't let them beat our human rights record either." This is United Students Against Sweatshops' reasoning for holding its pep rally during Beat Michigan week.

The USAS is affiliated with the Occupy movement at Ohio State and is opposing the OSU licensing partnership with the Dallas Cowboys due to allegations of sweatshop use to produce logo apparel.

The Cowboys supply licensed apparel to major colleges like Ohio State and USC. The University of Michigan said "no" to Dallas Cowboys merchandising because multiple labor rights monitoring organizations have reported violations around the globe in factories producing Cowboys merchandise.

The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights issued a report back in October claiming factory workers in El Salvador have been laboring in sweatshop conditions to make licensed goods for the Cowboys, OSU and many other professional and college teams. This group supports USAS, which has been lobbying OSU for months to drop negotiations with the Cowboys.

Charles Kernaghan, leader of this institute, told the Columbus Dispatch, "Workers are locked in the factory, where temperatures often exceed 100 degrees, and are paid only 78 cents an hour."

The Cowboys deny these allegations and insist the reports are false.

"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 hope that the people who spread this false information are held accountable for their actions as well," said Brett Daniels, Cowboys spokesman, in an interview with the Dispatch.

OSU licensing director Rick Van Brimmer told the Dispatch the university learned of the allegations only through a news release and "immediately sought the advice and counsel" of the Fair Labor Association and the Worker Rights Consortium to help investigate and mediate this issue. OSU continues to investigate.

The USAS pep rally was held Nov. 22 in the lobby of the Ohio Union. Unlike traditional silent demonstrations against social issues, students gathered for a spirited pep rally protest.

The protesters screamed out cheers like "O-H-I-O! Dallas sweatshops have to go!" in the Union and marched their way around the Oval. Spectators were encouraged to sign their petition. The petition opposes Ohio State signing a contract with the Dallas Cowboys apparel line because it says they use sweatshops that force their workers into cruel situations, such as no water breaks and unpaid, forced overtime.

One of the rally coordinators, OSU freshman Laini Rini, said what they hoped to gain from their pep rally.

"We are trying to get attention from the university. We want to gain awareness with students and professors and let the university know that it's not just us who cares, everyone cares," she said.

Michigan did beat us on the football field, but there are so many other important things we can totally kick their *ss in.

For more information on the Ohio State USAS petition, go to change.org and search "Ohio State: Don't Let Exploitation Represent Higher Education."