As sports fans gear up for the NFL Super Bowl next week, the Halftime show sponsor, Bridgestone/Firestone, continues to exploit workers on its rubber plantation in Liberia.
The majority of workers who labor as "rubber tappers" must carry two heavy buckets of raw latex weighing 75 pounds each on both ends of a stick on their back for miles. This back-breaking system of transportation has long been left behind by other rubber production companies globally and it's time for Firestone to stop this abuse. It's unacceptable that a tire company has not provided some wheels to workers to help transport rubber.
Firestone workers in Liberia have faced severe abuses for 84 years, but have recently made major advances in securing their rights. After a major organizing campaign, workers finally held the first free and fair union elections on the plantation in 2007 and signed an historic collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in 2008. (Check out this video for more background)
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.
Please take a moment to tell Firestone to enter 2010 with a humane system of transporting rubber on its plantation in Liberia!
However, I am shocked to learn that Firestone rubber workers must still carry heavy buckets full of latex on their backs for miles. This system is extremely outdated and is a violation of the workers' rights. It must be changed and updated immediately to ensure a more efficient, safe and reasonable environment for workers.
As you prepare to spend millions of dollars on your sponsorship of the Super Bowl Halftime show, I strongly encourage you to make a lasting investment in the lives of your workers by updating the transportation system for the latex on your rubber plantation in Liberia.