The 2008 Chicago Auto Show starting February 8, 2008 will be partly sponsored by Bridgestone Firestone. While Bridgestone enjoys the public attention from the show, workers on the company’s rubber plantation in Liberia continue to be exploited. Since 1926, Bridgestone Firestone has operated the world’s largest rubber plantation in Harbel, Liberia where there is child labor, widespread abuse of workers’ rights and environmental damage. Workers on the plantation earn just $3.19 per day – less than the cost of admission to the Chicago Auto Show.
The Stop Firestone Coalition, which includes both U.S. and Liberia-based human rights, labor, environmental and Africa-focused organizations, calls on Bridgestone Firestone to stop the exploitation of workers and the environment on their plantation in Liberia and to negotiate a fair collective bargaining agreement with the newly elected union leaders on the plantation. The Chicago Auto Show should not be involved in a marketing partnership with Bridgestone Firestone until the company stops using child labor and ignoring international labor standards.
Alfred Brownell, Director of Liberia-based Green Advocates said, “The cost of sponsoring the Chicago Auto Show would go a long way to fix the problems on Firestone’s plantations in Liberia.”
Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus, a project of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Policy Studies, said, “The Chicago Auto Show should not allow sponsorship from a corporation linked to child labor and destruction of the environment. While it may be late for this year’s Chicago Auto Show, any sponsorship deal for next year’s show must be revoked.”
Bama Athreya, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Forum in the U.S. said, “The Chicago Auto Show’s partnership with a company that is known to use abusive child labor stands in stark contrast to their charitable efforts. Instead of purely focusing on public relations, Bridgestone Firestone should make a concrete investment in making sure conditions on their rubber plantation are in line with international labor standards.”
The company is also the target of a lawsuit filed by International Rights Advocates, which is moving forward on child labor claims in the U.S. District Court in the Southern district of Indiana, Indianapolis division.
The Stop Firestone coalition is a coalition of U.S. and Liberian-based human rights, labor, environmental and Africa-focused organizations working to hold Firestone accountable for its 82 years of exploitation of Liberia. For more information, please visit: www.StopFirestone.org.