Tim Newman, Campaigns Assistant, International Labor Rights Forum
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a special media preview of the Chicago Auto Show. This annual car show is currently open to the public at McCormick Place in Chicago and is co-sponsored by Bridgestone/Firestone. At first the huge displays were overwhelming, but eventually I was able to find Bridgestone's corner of the show (just in time for their "tailgate party").
I noticed that Bridgestone was promoting their slogan "Passion for Excellence" in their display, but judging by their 81 years of child labor and environmental abuse on their rubber plantation in Liberia, it seems to me that they have a "Passion for Exploitation."
Throughout the day, Bridgestone was playing their two Super Bowl commercials starring Richard Simmons and Alice Cooper over and over. They even gave out footballs sporting the Bridgestone and NFL logos. (Send a letter to the NFL and Firestone by clicking here!)
Bridgestone also had a corner of their display which promoted themselves as environmentally responsible. Almost every car company tried to portray themselves as eco-friendly. Of course Bridgestone made no reference to their pollution of local rivers around their rubber plantation in Liberia.
The Bridgestone press conference featured Tim Dunn from Bridgestone Americas and former Tennessee Titan Eddie George. Both of these gentlemen highlighted Bridgestone's supposed commitment to community during the press conference, but when I asked Mr. George about the company's use of child labor on its rubber plantation in Liberia, he didn't have much to say. They also made a lot of references to Bridgestone's marketing partnership with the NFL and unveiled two new versions of the Potenza tire.
As Bridgestone Firestone continues to sponsor high-profile public events like the Chicago Auto Show, it is important that supporters of labor rights speak up to let the company know that we will not allow them to continue to exploit workers in Liberia. The Stop Firestone campaign's successes are growing, but we need YOU to take further action to ensure justice for the workers in Liberia.
Do you live in the Chicago area?! Click here to download a flyer which you can distribute at the Chicago Auto Show to raise awareness about this campaign.
You can view more photos from the Chicago Auto Show here. Check out the video below to see another side of Bridgestone Firestone's environmental story.