Olsens Targeted by Sweatshop Watchdog

Olsens Targeted by Sweatshop Watchdog
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Steve Sands/BAUER-GRIFFIN

updated 12/08/2004 AT 03:20 PM EST

originally published 12/08/2004 AT 03:00 PM EST

Amid daily dating rumors and life at New York University, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen now have another issue to contend with: labor group protests.

The National Labor Committee (NLC), a watchdog group that made waves in 1996 when it publicized the sweatshop conditions of Honduran laborers who worked on Kathie Lee Gifford's clothing line, have now set their sights on the Olsens.

The NLC claims it asked the sisters to support paid maternity leaves for the women who manufacture the Olsen's Wal-Mart clothing line in Bangladesh and failed to hear back from them. The group has scheduled a protest march for Thursday near New York University.

The twins, however, say they never received the request and released a statement that said all vendors who do business with their company "are required to comply with the most rigorous health and safety standards in the retail industry."

The twins' rep, Michael Pagnotta, tells PEOPLE: "They said they sent a petition months and months ago, but none of us can recall seeing it.

"Both organizations are talking and we hope it will come to a positive result," he added. "We certainly take the issue of fair treatment for workers seriously."

Meanwhile, the twins' business empire continues to grow. They announced that they will launch two new fragrances, Coast to Coast LA and Coast to Coast NYC, next spring. According to Mary-Kate, the scents will capture the girls' "sense of fashion and style."

And, on a personal note, Mary-Kate is clearing up rumors about her dating life, shooting down reports that she's dating model Karl Lindeman. "Mary-Kate has no new boyfriend," her rep insists.

She is still clubbing, though, having joined her sister at the restaurant-club Butter on Monday. Ashley spent most of the evening hanging with her friend, restaurateur Scott Sartiano.

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