Timothy Newman, Campaigns Director, International Labor Rights Forum
For the third year in a row, the Bridgestone/Firestone tire company will be the title sponsor of the NFL Super Bowl Halftime Show on February 7, 2010. While the Firestone, the largest tire company in the world, spends millions on two glitzy new TV ads and The Who rocks out in front of a Bridgestone Americas logo, the thousands of workers on the company's rubber plantation in Liberia that produce the key resource that keeps those tires running will be working in conditions like this:
In 2010, stepping onto Firestone's rubber plantation in Liberia is like being transported back centuries. The majority of workers on the plantation are "rubber tappers" who collect raw latex from the rubber trees and pour them into buckets that weigh 75 pounds each. The tappers carry two of the heavy buckets on each end of a stick on their backs for miles to a collection point where they are weighed and recorded to ensure that each rubber tapper meets his or her daily production quota. It is tragically ironic that a company that produces tires refuses to provide trucks for workers to transport the heavy buckets of latex. This type of work system is completely outdated and has been upgraded on most rubber plantations globally, for example in other major rubber-producing countries like Indonesia.
Firestone workers in Liberia have recently made important advances in securing their rights. After a major organizing campaign, workers finally held the first free and fair union elections on the plantation in 2008 and signed an historic collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Check out the video below to see the working conditions on the plantation and learn more about the workers' inspiring struggle!
Right now, workers have an important opportunity to take the next step forward in achieving the justice they have long deserved. The union is currently negotiating a new contract with Firestone. This is a crucial opening for workers to finally remove Firestone’s heavy load of exploitation from their backs.
- Send an e-mail to Firestone here;
- If you use Twitter, you can spread the word by posting a Tweet like this: @BridgestoneINFO #Superbowl #Halftime sponsor #Bridgestone #Firestone: Stop exploiting workers in #Liberia! http://bit.ly/8taTuu
- If you are on Facebook, you can post a comment like this on Bridgestone/Firestones fan page (online here: http://www.facebook.com/BridgestoneTires): "Stop exploiting workers in Liberia! http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/Firestone2010"
Together we CAN make a difference -- we've already accomplished so much with this campaign! So let's take it to the next level and finally end this outdated and abusive system of transporting latex.